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Detroit motorists under siege in 'Carjack City'

By Corey Williams

Associated Press

Published: Friday, May 23 2014 1:37 p.m. MDT

Prosecutors, the FBI and Detroit police recently announced a campaign to spread the word about stiffer federal penalties for carjacking, which can include the death penalty if someone is killed. A similar campaign that includes billboards with photos of convicted carjackers started last summer in Newark.

Detroit police have also announced a partnership with General Motors' OnStar roadside assistance service to track down stolen vehicles and promote rewards tied to an anonymous tip line.

To avoid becoming a victim, security guard Greg Champion wears a handgun on his hip whenever he's pumping gas.

"I don't want to surprise you," Champion said. "I want you to know I'm armed, and I want you to know I can defend myself, and I want you to go somewhere else."

Christine Reed takes the opposite approach. The 27-year-old mother of two won't stop for gas in Detroit. She lives north of the city in Warren and works four days a week cleaning offices downtown.

If she's in a bad section of town, Reed said, she passes through red lights because it's tougher to carjack a moving target.

"It's not a safe place anymore," Reed said. "It's dangerous."

The state-appointed emergency manager tasked with restructuring Detroit's $18 billion in debt has said crime needs to be reduced to make the city attractive to new residents and businesses.

That's going to take more and better resources, said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who complains that she has only a few assistants to try carjackings.

"When nobody has any resources ... all we can be is reactive," she said.

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