Rep. Henry Cuellar’s carjacking highlights rising crime rate in nation’s capital

Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, of Texas, was carjacked by three armed attackers outside his apartment building Monday night —a disturbing episode that put a spotlight on the rising crime rates in the nation’s capital, in defiance of national trends.

Cuellar said he was swarmed by three assailants wearing masks and black clothing and carjacked at gunpoint in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

“Three guys came out of nowhere and they pointed guns at me,” Cuellar said. “I do have a black belt, but I recognize when you got three guns —I looked at one with a gun, another with a gun, a third one behind me. So they said they wanted my car. I said, ‘Sure.'”

Cuellar said police recovered his SUV and his phone two hours later. 

The brazen robbery occurred eight months after Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig, a Democrat, was assaulted in an elevator in her Washington, D.C., building.

Violent crime is up 39% in the nation’s capital compared with last year, and motor vehicle theft rose by 106%, according to D.C. police.

Bruce Jacobs, a professor of criminology at the University of Texas, told CBS News the vast majority of carjackings are armed, and there’s been a recent trend of these crimes showing up on social media.

“We’ve seen a number of cases in the data where carjackers are either live streaming their offense, or at least bragging about it,” he said.

While violent crime is trending down nationwide, data from a recent Council on Criminal Justice study of 32 U.S. cities shows motor vehicle thefts were 104% higher in the first half of 2023 compared with 2019.

“It’s just a matter of somebody coming up your door, throwing you out and getting in, and that really does take seconds,” Jacobs said.

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