NEW ORLEANS — Council Member Joe Giarrusso has been hearing many concerns from people in his district about violent crime. He said a carjacking Tuesday, in particular, is causing much concern. It happened along Bayou St. John on Moss Street and Wilson Dr.
Michael Gaspard owns an auto repair shop on Bienville and became a victim of what appears to be a failed auto theft Monday around noon.
“I know of three other cases besides this one in the last week and a half,” he said about the recent Mid-City auto crimes.
In surveillance video from a neighbor’s home, you can see a black Honda CRV pull up outside of his shop. Someone jumps out and into Gaspard's customer's car he was working on. You can see Gaspard pull the person out of the car, then a second person points a gun at him.
“It was a big boy toy,” Gaspard said.
Gaspard put his hands up and the suspects drove off in the CRV, according to the video.
“They were young and someone’s going to get hurt,” Gaspard said.
Five hours later, a video released by NOPD shows a carjacking on Conti St. off Bernadotte. Police said four people pulled up in a black Honda CRV and stole a victim's gray Honda Pilot. The CRV is then seen on video hitting another car. The victim told police the offenders were likely 18 to 20 years old.
“They’re targeting late model cars with push-button start because you can start the car without a key,” Gaspard said.
Gaspard said the owner of the home where that carjacking occurred is a friend of his.
“He said it was the same vehicle and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit because we're only talking about a five-hour difference,” Gaspard said.
Councilmember Joe Giarrusso said he's been hearing many concerns about carjackings this week.
“One was on Toulouse Street where a woman was run over and her pelvis was fractured,” Giarrusso said.
Preliminary data compiled by the New Orleans City Council shows carjackings are up 62 percent this year with 73 carjackings reported so far in 2021, compared to 45 by this time in 2020. The crime dashboard also shows auto thefts are up 19 percent with 935 reported this year.
That makes just over 1,000 cars that have been stolen in New Orleans so far this year by carjacking or theft.
“I think a lot of people look at the police department first for what needs to be done, but the real questions are what about all the parts of the process,” Giarrusso said.
Several neighbors in Mid-City have organized a meeting for this Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Blue Bridge along Bayou St. John to raise awareness about the auto crimes and discuss possible solutions.