(FOX 9) - As carjackings and car thefts continue to trouble the Twin Cities, including a recent rash of incidents in the west metro, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office says it is working to ramp up prosecution of carjacking cases.
In a statement on Tuesday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says his office will dedicate two prosecutors to handle carjacking cases, one for minors and one for adult cases. On top of that, the office will also make available an advocate to work with victims of carjackings.
The Hennepin County Attorney's Office only began tracking carjackings as a specialized category in 2020 as carjackings became a bigger problem. As of Monday, there have been 138 cases referred to the county attorney for carjackings, which is higher than the total of 124 cases in 2020. The attorney says they've been able to bring charges in 87 percent of cases this year compared to 75 percent in 2020.
Carjackings in St. Louis Park and Edina
Police in St. Louis Park and Edina said last week they suspect a group had been responsible for a number of robberies and attempted robberies in the area, including incidents at two Lunds & Byerlys stores. A FOX 9 news crew covering a previous robbery at the St. Louis Park Lunds & Byerlys happened to witness one of the incidents where the group attacked a man in a car and tried to take the vehicle by force but were ultimately scared off.
Police have offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the cases.
After latest carjackings and attempted carjackings, five cities including Edina, Plymouth, and Bloomington, planned to take part in a meeting on the recent crime.
In a message over the weekend, the Edina mayor warned about the recent carjackings in the area, saying the city had to be "both on offense and defense" to combat the crimes.
Minneapolis warns of robberies and home invasions
Police warned they've seen an increase in these types of crimes in recent weeks and urged people in the city to be proactive and aware of the danger.
"Be alert if someone approaches you," one tip read, while another urged residents not to carry valuables or important documents on their person, like social security cards or passports. For carjackings, be aware of the methods criminals use to lure victims, like bumping your car or pretending to be stranded motorists.