Our nation’s capital is a model of dysfunctional, clueless blue city governance. Nothing highlights that better than the explosion of crime—and especially carjackings—since 2020.

The official 2023 year-end tally of carjackings in Washington, D.C., ended up being a staggering 959, twice the number of the previous year. There were 152 carjackings in 2019. That number more than doubled in 2020, and it has been soaring ever since.

What’s particularly hard to believe is that 65% of the carjackings last year were committed by perpetrators under the age of 18.

And it isn’t just carjackings that are on the rise. In 2023, 274 people were killed in homicides, a 36% increase from the year before, according to WUSA-TV, Washington’s CBS affiliate. That’s the highest homicide rate in two decades.

More from WUSA:

Robberies were up 67% last year—with 3,470 people reporting having been robbed in 2023. Vehicle thefts were up a whopping 82% with 6,829 people reporting a stolen vehicle. Arsons, which are generally uncommon, were up 175%, with 11 reported cases in 2023, up from only four in 2022.

It’s amazing there are any non-stolen vehicles left in the District at this point. You’d think this calamity would provoke a huge response from local authorities.


City leaders, despite all that’s happened, refuse to do anything serious to stem the crime spree. Instead, they prefer to rely on gimmicks to give the impression that they have things under control.

One such program launched by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was to give D.C. residents free Apple AirTags so that their cars could be found after it’s been stolen. They’re essentially tracking devices.

Sky News Australia, of all media outlets, did an investigation of the program, which launched on Nov. 1. The D.C. government has held three events handing out the AirTags. The government didn’t announce the total number of devices handed out, but if it was in large numbers, the total price tag couldn’t have been cheap. AirTags sell for $99.

Guess how many cars have been retrieved via the tracking devices since then? Zero. Not a single car has been found. Great work.

All they’ve accomplished is to waste more taxpayer money.

Even if they did manage to find a few cars, why is the government prioritizing finding stolen vehicles instead of preventing their theft? That mentality is how the city got into this predicament in the first place.

The only thing that will fix the situation in the District is to do the one thing the left-wing ideologues on the D.C. Council won’t do; namely, increase deterrence. The carjacking numbers will start coming down only when the perpetrators are arrested, prosecuted and given harsh sentences.

The problem isn’t just that people aren’t arrested, it’s that the legal system has frequently let criminals right back out on the streets. A case from November highlights that.

In October, a 15-year-old carjacking suspect was sent home by a Superior Court judge instead of to a detention facility. The suspect clearly didn’t take the arrest seriously.

“According to court testimony, days after being sent home, that girl and her half-sister were part of a group that allegedly called and then carjacked a rideshare driver,” WRC-TV, an NBC affiliate, reported in October. “Her half-sister died in a crash Thursday in D.C.’s Brentwood neighborhood shortly after the alleged carjacking.”

While records for juveniles are sealed, Bowser said at a press conference, “in my opinion, you’ve been arrested for the seventh time for carjacking, [secure detention] is where you belong.”

There shouldn’t be a “seventh” time. There shouldn’t be a second time. From the moment the city sided with the mob and defunded the police, it’s been caught in a spiral of crime and dysfunction that it can’t escape.

In just the first five days of 2024, the District had 53 cars reported stolen. So, the trend continues into the new year.

The fundamental problem with the District and other cities is not simply that they have a lot of crime. 

The problem is that the people in power and in the courts have an inverted view of justice. They have created the conditions whereby criminals are empowered, and decent, upstanding citizens are made to live in fear. 

On top of that, they’ve allowed criminals to create a pipeline for more criminals. Crime pays, and now a generation of young car thieves and carjackers will know that the city is unwilling and unable to stop them.

That’s how you create the conditions for a “doom loop” in a city or society.

Congress has already had to intervene in the city’s affairs recently to prevent officials from going even softer on crime. You know you have problems when Congress is your only hope of salvation, but given the current circumstances, it might be the District’s only hope.

The intervention makes sense, given that even some legislators have been victimized in the District. Even Democrats know this has become a national embarrassment. 

The framers of the Constitution created the federal district in part to keep nationally elected officials safe from potentially predatory locals. Is the District’s government fulfilling it’s job under home rule, which Congress granted the city in 1973? Not at all.

Given the obtuse mentality of the members of the D.C. Council, it seems unlikely that even being mugged by reality will get them to change course.

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com, and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.