NEWARK, N.J. – Since 2009, more than 200 carjackings have taken place in Essex County, and each year that number continues to climb. In response to this, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, along with members of the Anti-Carjacking Task Force, which includes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), unveiled an anti-carjacking public awareness campaign.
Billboards, bus placards and flyers highlight that carjackers face serious consequences. Defendants convicted of federal carjacking or attempted carjacking face up to 15 years in prison, 25 years in prison if serious bodily injury results and life in prison or the federal death penalty if a carjacking victim is killed.
In the 1990s, Essex County led the nation in car theft. With advances in technology, vehicles are better equipped with sophisticated anti-theft devices, making it almost impossible for an amateur to steal an unattended car. As a result, carjackings have been on the rise.
In recent years, there have been more than 400 carjackings in the county. These crimes occur in the early morning hours and late at night. Carjackers target cars of all values.
In 2010, federal and state law enforcement agencies established the Anti-Carjacking Task Force, currently led by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman and Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray.
Since the formation of the task force, the U.S. Attorney's Office has prosecuted 37 defendants. Last month, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced charges against five Essex County men for carjacking and related crimes. The Essex County Prosecutor's Office indicted eight individuals in recent weeks on carjacking charges.