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St. Louis carjacking numbers down despite rash of armed car thefts over the weekend

This weekend alone, police responded to five carjackings and two armed robberies

ST. LOUIS — Pull up to a tree-lined block in St. Louis' Bevo neighborhood Monday and you'll find it quiet, autumn leaves collecting near the sidewalk. But when a couple parked in the same place around 4 p.m. Sunday -- headed into a backyard family gathering -- they had no idea they'd soon be ambushed by carjackers, guns pulled out.

Surveillance video from across the street shows the couple park and exit their car, but within seconds another man is running up behind them, shouting, and showing a weapon. The video picks up a panicked scream as the couple realizes what was happening. Within moments, the suspect is behind the wheel, another man jumps in the car with him, and they drive off. A second vehicle follows them.

"It's very scary," Christina Frank said. "I was shaking by the time I was finished watching the video the first time because it's literally in front of our house, and it's definitely pretty frightening.

Frank had just come home 20 minutes before the armed robbery, and it's her camera that caught the crime on video. 

As soon as the thieves drive away, another neighbor comes out to help -- showing how tight-knit this street is -- and the neighbor talks about seeing the suspects' guns.

Just five hours later another armed robbery. In Dogtown, a man was pistol-whipped from behind while walking to his car.

"They put a gun in my face and said 'I'm going to effing kill you,' and they ripped the pockets off of my pants, grabbed my keys, and they were gone in five seconds," Ryan McNealy said.

St. Louis police had responded to 232 carjackings as of 10 a.m. Monday, which is 22 fewer than the same time in 2019.

But this weekend alone, police responded to five carjackings and two armed robberies.

In another instance, two men attempted to carjack a 77-year old woman on Friday but ran off after they were not able to operate the BMW's manual transmission.

McNealy says he loves living in this area, but he wants others to be more aware.

"It is just a shame that crime like that has become so emboldened that it comes to our nice little square in St. Louis," McNealy said. "I really like it here. There's a lot of people that live around here that I care about, and I just want everybody to be hyper vigilant moving forward."

McNealy says he's physically fine after the attack, joking that he's "still pretty."

And Frank seconds his sentiment about watching your own surroundings.

"Just pay attention, stay safe, and don't rob people," she says with a laugh at the end.

Contact reporter Sara Machi on Facebook and Twitter.