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New Orleans starts new year with string of car thefts, carjackings

Carjacking increased by more than 20 percent last year and it shows no sign of slowing down.

NEW ORLEANS — The year 2022 is picking up where last year left off when it comes to carjacking in New Orleans.

Since Friday, more than a dozen vehicles have been stolen across the city.

That includes vehicles taken near City Park, the Superdome and the CBD.

Saturday night, Jo Anne Keck’s vehicle was taken at gunpoint in front of her home near Camp and Calhoun Streets in the Uptown neighborhood.

“A guy opened the passenger side, about 6'4, tall, thin, masked, hooded with a nine-millimeter gun with his arm extended and he aggressively walked up to me with a gun in my face,” Keck said

Home security video from down the street shows a man get out of another car with what appears to be a gun in his hand.

Keck feared for her life.

“Initially, I thought he was going to shoot me and kill me. At that point, my life flashed before my eyes. I just said whatever you want, I put my hands in the air and his response was give me the money, give me the money.”

The video shows Keck running from her vehicle and the carjacker and the other car speeding away.

“It unfolded really quickly in a matter of seconds,” Keck said.

Keck says the carjacker took off with $60 in cash, jewelry, her computer, and a zip drive with all her notes and work she completed toward a graduate financial degree.

“My exam is in two weeks, and I have six months of working three and four hours a day, every weekend, 8 hours a day and just putting my life on hold and these people took that and that really breaks my heart,” Keck said.

Southern University of New Orleans Criminologist Dr. John Penny says the carjackers will likely just abandon the vehicle when it runs out of gas.

“They use it to commit other crimes then dump it after they’re finished doing that they’re doing,” Penny said. “When they don’t have any more use for them, that’s what happens.”

Penny added, the Covid pandemic has been a time of idleness and criminal mischief for far too many young people in the city.

“We now have more families that are in destitute, into their own behavior. They figure, 'I can run faster, if I snatch a purse, if I steal a car, who’s going to be there to stop me?'”

Keck is sad for her hometown.

“I have so much fondness and love for this city, so many wonderful experiences,” Keck said. “It could be such a great place.”

Carjacking increased by more than 20 percent last year and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Keck is asking people to keep an eye out for her 2012 Blue Jeep Cherokee – Louisiana license plate YMC 453.

If you spot it, call New Orleans Police or Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.