Carjacking or Joyriding???

The last round of car thefts in Prince Georges County happened in Clinton, Maryland – only about a mile away from my home in Brandywine. The most publicized of the 4 recent cases in Clinton and Brandywine involved thieves driving away in a car with a 3 year old girl inside. Of course, they did stop as they were speeding down the road to let the girl out. Nice, car thieves with half a heart.

Car theft has become such a problem in Prince Georges County that we even get the honor of being called out in a Wikipedia entry on auto theft, which can be categorized as either carjacking and joyriding (since we need to classify things). According to statistics published by Prince Georges County, 2/3 of the auto thefts in Prince Georges County are joyriding incidents, with cars often recovered quickly and the other 1/3 are categorized in the carjacking category, with cars being sent to a chop shop for parts. A friend of mine has had his car stolen 2 times, both times at the Greenbelt Metro station – in each case, it was a joyriding incident. I drove him out to pick up his car from a Hyattsville impound lot on his second theft – they stole the stereo and there were several empty bottles of Courvoisier in the back seat of the car. Prince Georges County has taken steps to reduce the number of car thefts (such as bait cars, etc…) and have resulted in a 10% reduction in auto thefts in 2005, but we still have a lot of work to do.

4 Comments so far

  1. Don (unregistered) on January 30th, 2006 @ 12:26 pm

    Interesting; I think of carjacking as a term that has nothing to do with how the car ends up, but how it is stolen in the first place. Someone who takes my car when I am not in it might be going for a joyride or looking to sell it (well, okay, not MY car…). Someone who takes it from me with a gun at the intersection is carjacking, whether they just drive it around or strip it for parts.

  2. Tom Mills (unregistered) on January 30th, 2006 @ 2:11 pm

    Duh… you are entirely correct with respects to carjacking – carjacking implies stealing while someone is in the car. The most interesting thing is that most of the thefts are being carried out by juveniles…

  3. Don (unregistered) on January 30th, 2006 @ 2:38 pm

    My poorly-stated point was that classifying things either-or with those terms doesn’t work – a car theft can be both or neither.

    I’m not too surprised that it’s mostly a juvenile crime. It’s a reckless crime driven more by adreneline and image than money. To the extent a criminal can be smart, one with more sense would go after money or jewellery which are easier to make off with and easier to convert into drugs.

  4. John (unregistered) on March 2nd, 2006 @ 12:25 pm

    I had my truck stolen from in front of my house the day after I left the country for a 2 week vacation by PG County. I have no idea what really happened but when I returned to MD and paid my fines and towing ($527 before any repairs) I was finally allowed to see my truck. It has 2 flats and a large dent that it did not have the day I left town. The dent and the flats are not reasonably related. My street has had junked cars on it on and off for the 17 years I have lived in myhouse. There has never been a situation where a vehicle has been towed the first day or even month it has been vandalized, hit and run and rendered inoperable, abandoned, improperly tagged etc. It feels suspicious that my truck was towed the very first day after who knows what happened to it. The New Carrollton police man I met at the Upper Marlboro impound lot (couldn’t they have taken it to Hyattsville and saved me some towing fees?) said that he had the sticker removed from his tag by vandals (not the first time it has happened to him) and since it was towed after 3:30 on Friday and Monday was a holiday, he couldn’t get it out till the following Tuesday. That cost him an extra 100.00. His car was perfectly drivable and he had the new sticker with him but he was required to pay a tow truck to tow his car off the impound lot into the parking lot before he could drive it away.
    If I had left for vacation a week earlier, it had been vandalized and towed the next day, and I had returned a week later, it would be up for auction today (March 3). You have only 21 days (counting weekends, holidays, auction days when you can’t pick up the vehicle)before they will auction it at the next auction. If anyone has had a similar frustrating experience or knows a web site that is dedicated to dealing with similar situations, please email me at
    Soon to be ex 44 years resident of PG County

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