ST. LOUIS – Law enforcement experts across the country say criminals are putting a new twist on an old carjacking tactic called the bump-and-rob.

It’s nothing new. It’s an old scheme where thieves create a minor car accident to carjack their intended victims. This method has been on the rise across the country, officials say.

Two recent carjacking victims in St. Louis reported the same ploy. Both crimes happened less than a week apart, one near Barnes Jewish Hospital in the Central West End, and the other along Skinker next to Forest Park.

Corporal Dallas Thompson, Missouri State Highway Patrol, is sending a dire warning to drivers.

“We have heard stories about this in the past and, most recently, we have seen some headlines now, where this may be starting to come back again, where vehicles are being involved in a minor fender-bender or crash, and when they pull over to the side of the road, one party decides to rob the other party,” he said.

Carjackers will initiate contact with their target vehicle. When the victim gets out to check for damages or injuries, the suspects will steal the vehicle.

In one case, the victim told St. Louis police the suspect bumped her vehicle while she was waiting to enter the Interstate 64 on-ramp at South Kingshighway. As she exited her car, a 2021 Nissan Altima, she saw a passenger in the other vehicle running toward the Altima armed with a handgun. The victim ran across Kingshighway to escape and turned to see the thief drive off in her Altima.

The second incident happened last weekend, near the 900 block of Skinker.

Investigators with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department say three males between 16 and 20 years of age “strong-arm robbed the victim after her vehicle was struck in the rear.”

When she stopped, they came through her unlocked passenger door and told her to get out the vehicle. When the victim attempted to defend her car, the suspects struck her in the face and stated they would shoot her if she didn’t leave the vehicle.

“Being aware of your surroundings, being aware of who might be approaching your vehicle, if they have anything in their hands, just trust your gut,” Thompson said. “If something don’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Go ahead put yourself in a safe way, dial 911, report the incident, let law enforcement get there and do their investigation.”