Analysis: 90% of reported Minneapolis carjackings unsolved

Last year was a record year of carjackings in the Twin Cities, with Minneapolis bearing the brunt of most carjacking crimes in 2021.

"These carjackings – let’s be real, they are violent, they are dangerous, people are terrified by them and they need to stop," Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said during a December press conference.

MPD reported roughly 650 carjackings in 2021. Among the victims was a single mother of two who asked the FOX 9 Investigators to not share her identity.

"What if he killed me?" the woman said. "I was crying, and I was scared, and it’s so sad to think that in broad daylight that someone could just take you in plain sight in front of everybody."

The attack took place on a cold winter morning in South Minneapolis where authorities said 37-year-old Carl Williams wore a ski mask when he carjacked the woman at a gas station and forced her into her own car. Court records allege Williams kidnapped, sexually assaulted and robbed the woman before she was able to get out of the car and run down the block calling for help."

"I think that our leaders have failed us for the most part in the city," the woman said. "I think that they’ve allowed things to get worse."

While an arrest and charges were filed in Williams’ case, the FOX 9 Investigators have learned most carjacking crimes have not seen the same results.

A FOX 9 Investigators analysis of Minneapolis police data reveals about 90% of all carjacking crimes reported in 2021 remain unsolved.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey previously said the carjacking problem is complicated, in part, by MPD’s ongoing staffing shortages.

"[Police] are arresting people. They are doing their jobs to the extent they can with massive attrition to make sure the perpetrators are yes held accountable and we have diversion where appropriate," Frey said.

Twin Cities carjackings mapped out

Carjacking trends

At the tail-end of 2021, carjackings gained a groundswell of attention, particularly in the west suburbs.

In December, a FOX 9 photojournalist captured an attempted carjacking in St. Louis Park on camera. Within hours the same group hit again in Edina. Within days, a town hall was called in Edina amid concerns of overflowing crime.

However, a FOX 9 Investigators analysis of crime data reveals the lion’s share of carjackings in the metro took place within the city boundaries of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The data reveals the idea that Minneapolis’ carjacking problem would spill over into neighboring communities to the west has been remarkable minimal.

Last year, Minneapolis average more than 12 carjackings per week. By comparison, the west suburbs of Edina, St. Louis Park and Robbinsdale reported only a handful of carjackings for the entire year.

However, police chiefs across the metro maintain the carjacking problem is bigger than one city, one agency or one politician.

"Hennepin County is a complex county – the largest county in the state, largest city in the state, and then you have 37 communities roughly and in each one of those communities, the dynamics are different," said Chief Eric Werner, President of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association.

"We have intelligence systems, we have coordination, and we can share information," Werner said. "We understand who the groups are that are committing many of these crimes. I think there’s been very good coordination from the law enforcement perspective."

However, Minneapolis leaders acknowledge the concept that tackling the carjacking crisis will require more than just policing strategies.

"I think the common agenda is to get to a safer and more peaceful city," said MPD Interim Chief Amelia Huffman. "And now is the point where we have to have a smarter conversation about all the ways that we can do that."

However, for victims like the Minneapolis mom who was attacked in broad daylight, those conversations about solutions and prevention came too late.

"All people in Minneapolis would like results," the victim told the FOX 9 Investigators. "Just because it was me doesn't mean it couldn’t have been someone else. If it wasn't me, it could have been someone else's daughter, someone else's wife, someone else's mom."

In January 2022, Minneapolis reported an additional 43 carjackings while St. Paul reported 6 more carjackings.

2021 Carjackings Reported by Agency

Apple Valley Police Dept. 1
Bemidji Police Dept. 1
Big Lake Police Dept. 1
Blaine Police Dept. 3
Bloomington Police Dept. 2
Brooklyn Center Police Dept. 8
Brooklyn Park Police Dept. 12
Burnsville Police Dept. 1
Crystal Police Dept. 2
Duluth Police Dept. 1
Eden Prairie Police Dept. 2
Edina Police Dept. 1
Fergus Falls Police Dept. 1
Fridley Police Dept. 5
Golden Valley Police Dept. 2
Hopkins Police Dept. 1
Inver Grove Heights Police Dept. 1
Maple Grove Police Dept. 3
Maplewood Police Dept. 1
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Tribal Police Dept. 1
Minneapolis Police Dept. 655*
Minnetonka Police Dept. 1
New Brighton Dept. of Public Safety 1
New Hope Police Dept. 4
North St Paul Police Dept. 1
Northfield Police Dept. 1
Orono Police Dept. 1
Pine County Sheriff 1
Plymouth Police Dept. 1
Ramsey County Sheriff 4
Richfield Police Dept. 1
Robbinsdale Police Dept. 1
Rochester Police Dept. 1
Roseville Police Dept. 6
South St Paul Police Dept. 1
St Anthony Police Dept. 3
St Cloud Police Dept. 3
St Louis County Sheriff 1
St Louis Park Police Dept. 1
St Paul Park Police Dept. 1
St Paul Police Dept. 102**
University of MN Police Dept. - Minneapolis 1
Washington County Sheriff 2
West St Paul Police Dept. 1

Source: Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
*Source: Minneapolis Police Department
** Source: St. Paul Police Department