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Brutal Spike in Carjackings Driven by Teens with Limited School and Supervision

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A year of the coronavirus has given rise to what police leaders nationwide call an alarming trend: bored, wayward teenagers pointing guns in people’s faces and carjacking them.

“We’re not giving them enough supervision. That really created a problem,” says Tim Hardy, the longtime director of the juvenile court in Yuma, Ariz., and president of the American Probation and Parole Association.

Victims have been left terrified and bewildered.

“I felt like my life was about to end,” says a 25-year-old who was driving through an affluent section of Washington at 1:30 a.m. before being halted by masked suspects standing directly in front of him in the road and pointing rifles. The gunmen forced him from his car and sped off, police say.

There are no nationwide statistics on carjacking, as many enforcement agencies lump the crime into more general robbery tallies. And not everyone is convinced the spikes go beyond select cities that are seeing a wave of carjackings.

But the Police Executive Research Forum, a Washington-based think tank that regularly consults with chiefs across the country, found that “with many schools closed for in-person education, school-aged youths with free time — some as young as 12-15 — are committing a large portion of the increase in carjackings.”

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