April 28, 2014

Detroit One Partnership Announces Anti-Carjacking Campaign

The Detroit One violence reduction partnership today announced a campaign to raise public awareness about the serious federal penalties for carjacking.

Joining in the announcement were United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade; Detroit Police Chief James Craig; Special Agent in Charge Paul Abbate, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Field Office (FBI); Special Agent in Charge Steven Bogdalek, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); and Crime Stoppers President John Broad.

The campaign’s message, “Carjacking is a ride straight to prison,” will be communicated on billboards and in a public service announcement for broadcast media. The billboards are located on northbound I-75 at Holbrook, on westbound I-94 at Schaefer, and 7300 N. Saginaw at Taylor in the city of Flint.

The Detroit Police Department, FBI, and ATF are working together as part of the Violent Crime Task Force and Comprehensive Violence Reduction Program to combat the problem of carjacking in Detroit. The city has seen 165 reported cases of carjackings in 2014. Violent crimes typically increase during warmer weather, so this campaign is designed to coincide with the approaching summer months.

The campaign is designed to raise awareness of the stiff federal sentences that carjackers receive. In 1992, in response to the escalating violence associated with carjacking, Congress passed an armed carjacking law that carries penalties of up to 15 years in prison for each count; 25 years in prison if serious bodily injury results; and life in prison or the federal death penalty if death results. Those who use a firearm during the commission of a carjacking could be sentenced to an additional minimum consecutive sentence of five years in prison for each count, seven years in prison if a firearm was brandished, or 10 years in prison if a firearm is discharged and a maximum of life in prison. A subsequent conviction for using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence carries a minimum consecutive sentence of 25 years. As a result of this structure, serial carjackers face lengthy consecutive sentences.

Case examples include United States v. Tyree Washington. Washington, 22, of Detroit, was sentenced to 57 years in prison for committing three counts of armed carjacking. He used a .45 caliber handgun to commit carjackings and steal cars with custom rims, which he hoped to sell on the street.

In the case of United States v. Frank Harper, et al., Frank Harper, 29, of Detroit; Phillip Harper, 25, of Detroit; and Bernard Edmond, 46, of Redford Township, were convicted at trial for conspiring to steal cars to support a chop shop. The defendants conspired with several others to steal high-end vehicles, many by committing armed carjacking and then to retag the vehicles for sale. One of the men would purchase the stolen vehicles from the two carjackers, alter the vehicle identification numbers, create false documents to file with the Secretary of State, and then sell the vehicles to unwitting buyers. The three face sentencing in July. Phillip Harper faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 80 years in federal prison and Frank Harper and Bernard Edmond are facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 55 years in federal prison. Co-defendants Statford Newton, 25, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, Justin Bowman, 24, was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison and Darrell Young, 31, was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

“Carjackers create an unacceptable risk of physical harm or death and instill fear in our community,” McQuade said. “We hope that if criminals are aware of the very serious penalties for carjacking, then they will think twice before victimizing innocent motorists.”

“The most troubling thing can be the violence that is attached with such a heinous crime,” said Chief James Craig. “With the continued support of our local and federal partners and tough sentencing guidelines in place, I am confident we will continue to drive down on this crime and those who seek to prey on our citizens.”

“When law abiding citizens face the constant fear of being carjacked during the normal course of their daily lives, it negatively impacts the entire community,” said Paul Abbate, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Detroit Field Office. “As part of the Detroit One violent crime reduction partnership, the FBI, Detroit Police Department, ATF, and our other law enforcement partners are using this public awareness campaign to put would be perpetrators on notice that carjacking is a serious criminal offense that comes with significant federal penalties, and the Violent Crime Task Force is dedicated to combating these crimes.”

“Crime Stoppers is pleased to be a partner in the Detroit One violence reduction initiative,” stated John Broad, President. “We encourage those who witness a carjacking or have information which might lead the arrest of a carjacker to call their local police department or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SpeakUp.”

Participating agencies in the Detroit One initiative include the Detroit Police Department; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Marshals Service; Homeland Security Investigations; Michigan State Police; Michigan Department of Corrections; Wayne County Sheriff’s Department; Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office; and U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Motorists need to heighten their awareness to protect themselves against becoming victims of a carjacking. For tips on how to avoid becoming a victim go to http://www.state.gov/m/ds/rls/rpt/19782.htm.

To view the PSA, please visit our website at http://www.justice.gov/usao/mie/index.html.