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The Metro Carjacking Task Force answers your questions

Carjackings are happening in every corner of our region. But the numbers don't lie, most happen in St. Louis. And people are fed up.

ST. LOUIS — So far this year, there have been at least 272 carjackings in St. Louis and more when you factor in the entire region.

Many of you want to know what's being done to stop it.

In a 5 On Your Side exclusive, we took your questions to the multi-jurisdictional Metro Carjacking Task Force to get answers.

St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant Paul Piatchek is part of the task force that's tracking and fighting the crime that’s terrorizing people across our region.

We asked him how the system works.

“So, if there's a carjacking in the city our real time crime center immediately sends out an email page to dispatch centers and different detectives involved throughout the region. And they know within a few minutes a description of suspects and the vehicle to look for,” said Piatchek.

There have been 105 arrests in the 272 carjackings in the city so far in 2019. But how do the carjacking numbers compare?

According to St. Louis police there were roughly 253 cases in 2016 and 282 in 2017.

“How bad is it right now from your standpoint?” 5 On Your Side asked.

“I've been a police officer for 20 years and I've seen these trends go up and down. And they do,” said Piatchek. “But right now, we are having an issue where they're on the rise again. There's been several really good arrests lately and I can say that it's probably going to tamp back down, and the numbers will go down again. But we always have to be ready for that next group to come out. There is a definite concern.”

“What could be better? what could work better?” 5 On Your Side pressed.

“I think all the right things are being done, we just have to stay on top of the trends,” Piatchek answered.

In a Facebook Live video, we asked what you wanted to know from the task force.

Jessica Blair asked, “How the elimination of gun permits in 2017 has contributed.”

“I don't really personally see a correlation with that,” said Piatchek. “There's been times when we couldn't prosecute someone now where we could've before just carrying a gun. But when you use a gun in a crime it's illegal regardless of if it was illegal to carry in the first place.”

Jill Hunt wanted to know, “Are they targeting certain vehicles?”

“In general, no,” answered the Lieutenant. “But if they had their choice they would probably pick a nicer vehicle. It just depends on the group and if it's a spontaneous incident of a pre-planned one.”

David Primo wrote, “Do you think some of these carjackings committed by juveniles might be a rite of passage into gangs?”

“I'm not sure about the gang aspect,” said Piatchek. “I don't know if it's a rite of passage. But it's definitely a group-oriented activity a lot of the times.”

Piatchek said the most crucial piece since the start of the task force has been the information-sharing between agencies. He feels that will continue to help the group find and arrest carjackers.

RAW INTERVIEW: Carjacking Task Force answers your questions

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