Philly carjackings way up, homicides slightly down

Krasner stands at a podium and speaks into microphones from various media outlets.

DA Larry Krasner speaks at a press conference on Oct. 3, 2022. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

During a wide-ranging meeting with reporters Monday, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner offered a brief update on last week’s fatal shooting outside Roxborough High. He also provided new numbers on the big increase in carjackings in the city which comes as the homicide rate is down slightly compared to this time last year.

Krasner’s head of homicide Joanne Pescatore said investigators are “working around the clock” to find the people responsible for last Tuesday’s shooting in Roxborough that killed a 14-year-old student and injured four others. “We are getting closer,” Pescatore said. “Nothing else to report at this particular time, but they are getting closer.”

Pescatore said recovering the vehicle used in the shooting was a big break in the case. Police have combed through the SUV for clues that they hope will lead them to the shooters.

“They got the best crime scene person to go over that car, there were fingerprints found, and there was evidence recovered,” she said.

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No suspects are in custody.

Carjacking’s international influence

Krasner also spoke about the ever-increasing carjacking rate in Philadelphia. More than 1,000 carjackings were reported in the city through the end of September.

“There’s no question that a component of this all the way up and down the East Coast is cars getting jacked and sent overseas to locations where not only they are worth more than their used cars price in the United States, but some of these are countries where the average annual income is far less than the value of one car. Sometimes it’s a 20th the value of one car,” Krasner said.

Philadelphia had surpassed the previous record of 847 thefts in 2021, which had doubled from 410 carjackings in 2020.

The DA went on to say his office is working with federal authorities to figure out if this is more than a Philadelphia issue.

“It’s front of mind for us, this is a topic of steady communication with the US Attorney’s office, we have a steady communication with them, and we are working on it with them all the time.”

As the supply chain ramps up and parts become more readily available, Krasner said he believes the carjackings will go down.

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Slight decline in homicides

The DA also addressed the homicide rate in the city, saying it is less than this time last year. So far this year, Philadelphia has had 403 homicides, that’s 3% less than this time last year when there were 416.

“Obviously the news remains terrible, a leveling as opposed to a continued rise, which is something we have seen for the last two years,” Krasner said. “That is, of course, consistent I guess with what we would all describe as a reduction in the effects of the pandemic.”

Krasner said that a return of more personal interactions as pandemic restrictions have expired has become important in lessening the amount of homicides.

“I don’t know that I would go so far as to say the pandemic is over, although someone said that,” he said, referencing President Biden’s statement last month. “But I would certainly say in our everyday life, we see classrooms that are open. We see that organized sports are occurring both in and out of school. We see a lot of the after-school activities that used to be there, the normal human contact, much of it without masks. We’re seeing things getting better in that regard.”

There were 562 homicides in Philadelphia last year, an all-time high.

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