DC Resorts To Drastic Measures Amid Mass Carjackings

The District of Columbia is taking unusual action to address the spike in auto thefts and carjacking, including providing auto tracking devices and dash cameras to residents, the Associated Press reported.

The initiative, launched by the DC Metro Police Department and Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration, is part of a multi-pronged anti-crime offensive to address violent crime in the nation’s capital where homicide and vehicle theft have skyrocketed.

The Metro police are handing out free digital tracking tags like the Apple AirTag to residents living in communities with high vehicle thefts, including the Navy Yard and parts of Capitol Hill.

DC residents who work for rideshare companies like Alto, Lyft, or Uber, as well as drivers for food delivery services, can also obtain a free dashboard camera.

Salah Czapary, the head of the Department of Nightlife and Culture told the Associated Press that it was clear that the city had to do more to boost public safety. Czapary’s department partnered with the Department of For-Hire Vehicles to distribute dash cameras.

The dashcam program is being partially funded through a $500,000 investment from food delivery company DoorDash.

While the dash cameras can’t stop car thieves from stealing vehicles, the footage will help police apprehend the suspects and aid prosecutors in successfully prosecuting the case, Czapary said.

Metro Police Sgt. Anthony Walsh told the Associated Press that while he couldn’t promise that the digital tracking systems would enable the police to immediately recover a stolen vehicle while it is still intact, the data from the tracker would help trace the route the thieves take which would allow police to pull security footage along the route to aid in the arrest and prosecution of the thieves.

Walsh said the program is aimed at helping investigators “build a case that holds up in court” to get car thieves off of DC streets.

By mid-November, the homicide rate in the District was up 34 percent over the previous year while car theft is up by 98 percent and carjackings by 104 percent.