Hennepin County Attorney’s Office to ramp-up prosecution of carjackings

car theft

In response to the skyrocketing number of carjackings in Hennepin County, on Tuesday Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced that two attorneys have been assigned to specialize in the prosecution of carjacking cases.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office will dedicate two prosecutors—one for juvenile cases and one for adult cases. In addition, the office will designate an advocate to assist victims of carjackings.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office will also make staff available as a resource to communities and local law enforcement throughout Hennepin County to provide training, information, policy development, or potential legislation.

In 2020, the office saw a significant number of carjacking cases from mid-2019 when the office began tracking carjackings. Carjacking cases referred to the HCAO are up in 2021 from 2020 in both adult and juvenile. As of December 13, 2021, there were 138 referrals of carjacking cases to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, 94 of which were juveniles and 44 were adults.

In 2020, 124 cases were referred to the office. The office charged 75% of the referrals so far in 2021 and 87% of referrals in 2020.

“These are violent and scary cases for the victims who are carjacked, some happening in broad daylight outside the grocery store or their homes,” said Freeman.

“My office will provide victim assistance and prosecute cases referred to us from law enforcement to the full extent of the law. We have also been working with the Minneapolis Police Department, Hennepin County commissioners, city officials, and law enforcement throughout Hennepin County to support our law enforcement agencies in their work investigating, gathering evidence, and developing prevention strategies.”

Carjacking cases involve the threat or use of force in taking an automobile. Charges associated with carjackings are typically assaults and aggravated robberies.

Auto theft is commonly the taking of an unoccupied car—which is considered a low-level, non-violent offense. In contrast, carjackings are violent crimes in which a firearm or force is used to steal a car or personal belongings from someone.

Public safety officials are asking the public to remain aware of their surroundings, drive or walk away if they are not comfortable with a situation, lock their car doors, and provide the best description of the suspects and/or their vehicle to 911. 

Information provided in part by the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.