Attorney General Schmitt pushes statute to prosecute carjackings

ST. LOUIS - Since being appointed attorney general, Eric Schmitt has made it clear he is going after violent crime. One way he is doing this is by taking on carjackings in the St. Louis metro area.

Eric Schmitt says there were over three hundred carjackings in the St. Louis metro in 2018. He calls it an epidemic and is trying to change laws to help prosecutors attack the crime.

“Those numbers are up. I think part of this is that a lot of criminals think they can get away with this,” said Schmitt.

Schmitt is joining State Senator Bob Onder and State Representative and lawyer David Gregory in introducing a statute to better address and prosecute violent carjackings.

“Right now, if you are hijacked in Missouri we can’t charge a perpetrator with hijacking. We have to stuff it under a robbery or stealing charge,” Said Gregory.

Under Schmitt's proposed statute prosecutors could charge carjackings with a specific offense of motor vehicle hijacking. If a child or an elderly person is a victim, it could be charged as a class a felony punishable up to 10-30 years.

“This is about removing the worst offenders from our streets where they prey on citizens, damage neighborhoods and destroy lives,” Schmitt said.

If a weapon is used in a carjacking, whether the suspect succeeds in the crime or not, the person will go to jail for 10 years to life.

“Other states like Florida, Georgia, and Illinois have carjacking statutes and it's high time for Missouri to join them,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt also says it’s clear when speaking with prosecutors all over the state that they back a plan to deal with violent crime, including local prosecutors Kim Gardner in the city and Wesley Bell in the county. Schmitt hopes to work in a collaboration with them.

It is Schmitt's hope to get his bill passed this year.

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