(USNewsBreak.com) – Many major cities have seen an increase in violent crime, and the nation’s capital is no exception. In 2023, violent crime was up 37% overall, and carjacking incidents have increased by 103%, according to the DC Police Union. That statistic was recently on display when authorities arrested several teenagers suspected of a string of vehicle thefts in the area.
On Monday, December 11, Matthew Graves, the US attorney for the District of Columbia, held a press conference detailing the arrest of 10 teens he claimed were responsible for at least 15 carjackings. They reportedly used weapons to threaten the victims into complying. The 10 suspects comprised two separate groups. He said they allegedly had a group chat where they referred to the crimes, called “GTA IRL,” acronyms he believes stand for “Grand Theft Auto in real life.”
The prosecutor is charging all the suspects arrested, even those under 18, as adults due to the serious nature of the purported crimes. The US attorney charged three men with 33 counts in US District Court, including carrying a firearm during a violent crime, interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle, and conspiracy to commit carjacking. The other seven suspects face 19 criminal charges in DC Superior Court, including robbery while armed, armed carjacking of a senior citizen, and conspiracy.
Authorities also accused one of the detained teens of shooting a ride-share driver multiple times. The man survived. Prosecutors pointed out the indiscriminate judgment used by the suspects in who they attacked, as well. Victims included a single mother with children, an elderly couple, and a dentist.
Graves hopes these prosecutions will convey a message to others that “this is not a game … there will be real-world consequences.” The US Attorney said the move had become necessary because the city had experienced nearly 1,000 carjackings in the last year, and the majority, 77%, involved guns. He pointed to the district’s failure to update public safety laws, something city leaders haven’t done in more than 100 years.
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