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INDIANAPOLIS — Carjacking cases have increased across the city of Indianapolis. Suspects are armed with a weapon and after your car.

And the suspects are quick, turning an increasing number of drivers into victims.

“Seconds. All it takes is seconds for someone to catch you off guard,” IMPD Officer Samone Burris said.

Last fall, 19-year-old Haley Talkington and her boyfriend were carjacked. Six men showed up with guns, stealing her car and her boyfriend’s car right after they parked.

“They had ski masks on, coats and gloves,” Talkington said. “I didn’t realize until they were on us that we were going to be robbed and that’s when my emotion of terror really set in.”

Talkington’s case was one of 247 carjackings reported to IMPD in 2021, an increase of 40% from the previous year.

Police records show most of the time the suspects stealing these cars are teenagers. 

From January to August of 2021, 52% of carjacking suspects were juveniles. 36% of those juveniles were barely old enough to drive.

“Most of them are juveniles, under the age 16 that are taking vehicles from people,” Burris said. “I don’t think juveniles understand the consequences of carjacking someone.”

The FOX59 Crime Mapping team did a breakdown of carjackings across Indianapolis since last February. Data shows some addresses had more than one report of a carjacking.

The area just north of Willard Park on the city’s near east side was one of the most troubled spots, with seven carjackings in a six-month time span last year.

“Creating a life of crime, all it takes is one time for you to commit a crime before you’re onto your next thing. We don’t want that to happen with our community. We do not want that to happen with our young people,” Burris said. 

In response to the drastic increase in carjackings, a task force was formed last summer. FBI Special Agents, IMPD robbery detectives and FBI violent task force detectives are all part of the newly-formed team dedicated to stopping carjackings and making arrests.

“We are going to do our diligent effort to ensure that our victims of these crimes received justice,” Burris said

Burris calls carjackings a crime of opportunity, knowing thieves are scoping out the situation before striking. She’s warning drivers to be scoping out their surroundings too.  

If you do find yourself in a carjacking situation, police are reminding you to be a good witness. Pay attention to which way the suspect drives, get a good description of the suspect and do not fight back.

“It is not worth you losing your life fighting over a possession,” Burris said.