By Natasha Robin | WVUE | March 13, 2023
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – A violent weekend in New Orleans saw an uptick in carjackings, which had been trending down through the first two months of the year.
New Orleans police investigated four carjackings across town, some of which involved multiple gunmen.
On Saturday (March 11), just before noon, police say five gunmen approached a man and demanded his vehicle in the 6500 block of Morrison.
On Sunday, around 11:51 p.m., police say five gunmen struck a man in the back of the head with guns and then stole his Chevy Camaro at the intersection of Banks and S. Rendon Streets.
So far this year, there have been 46 carjackings, according to the Metropolitan Crime Commission, compared to 81 at the same time last year. That’s a 43% decrease.
LSU Health Criminologist Peter Scharf says carjackings are crimes of opportunity and there tends to be a spike in that particular crime when people are out and about.
“St Patrick’s Day, there were a lot of people out walking around with wallets, and they drive around. There’s a lot of innocent traffic going through the area,” said Scharf.
The only crime category that’s up this year compared to last is murder. So far, the MCC says 53 people were homicide victims compared to 35 at this time last year – a 51% increase.
Scharf says it will take time to really get a handle on the problem. He believes now is the time to really invest in crime prevention and intervention. He says the city could apply for a grant through the Bureau of Justice Assistance that would allow for about $2 million dollars to create programs that the city desperately needs.
“Right now, with everything happening in the last few years, the city is a rough sell. I think repairing our image is really important. I hope they’re going to be able to do that, and we need a boost. We need something different and prevention intervention means it is intelligence-led policing in a lot of ways. You try to prevent crime as a major component in the strategy,” said Scharf. “The idea is not to wait for the people to get arrested but to intervene well prior.”
The mayor’s office, in a statement, said leaders have begun discussing the grant.
“Leadership within the administration have begun discussing this opportunity with various community, public and private stakeholders and will continue to seek input in the coming days and weeks in order to put forth the best proposal possible for the City of New Orleans,” the statement read.