After armed carjackings, questions about Uptown crime remain

Martha Sanchez, Associate News Editor

carjackings, tupd
Carjackings have been on the increase in the Uptown area.

In 2021, New Orleans Police Department’s second district — which includes Tulane University’s upscale neighborhood — experienced at least 12 reported carjackings. Now, that same area has recorded at least eight since January alone.

Four carjackings and one attempted carjacking occurred on Jan. 15.  The Tulane University Police Department issued a notice the following day that four believed to be connected to the carjackings were arrested. 

Crime Uptown mirrors a surge in violent crime in cities nationwide. In both New Orleans and at Tulane, these trends are prompting urgent questions about how to keep the University area and its students safe. 

“We have to acknowledge that this is a problem,” Michelle Foster, director of investigations for the Metropolitan Crime Commission, said. 

In December, Tulane police reported that a Loyola University student was the victim of an armed carjacking as they were pulling into their residence. Foster said accountability and arrests are key for preventing future incidents. 

Councilmember Joe Giarrusso said the city wants to come at the issue from both sides. According to him, this means prosecuting suspects, focusing on early childhood education and making sure kids stay in schools. 

“We can’t be in an either or place,” he said. 

Carjackings in Orleans Parish are up 1100% since 2019, according to the Metropolitan Crime Commission. 

Foster pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as a possible cause for the increase. With less people going to work, restaurants and bars, she said criminals may have shifted tactics from car break-ins to carjackings. 

According to Foster, juveniles nationwide are contributing to increased carjackings. Foster also acknowledged the strain virtual learning has placed on young students. 

“It’s kind of the unintended consequences. You’re trying to deal with one problem … and then you’ve allowed a different sort of issue to spread,” she said. 

TUPD Chief of Police Kirk Bouyelas said the department has sent additional patrol cars to areas of recent carjackings. 

According to Bouyelas, TUPD offers several services to students who may be concerned about carjacking. Specifically, Bouyelas cited walking police escorts, transportation shuttles and security cameras placed on and off campus.

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