You know things are getting ridiculous with Detroit when Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers (!), is talking you-know-what about the Detroit Pistons. Now a story from the Associated Press piles on, declaring Detroiters "under siege in 'Carjack City.'" The nickname doesn't refer to the entire Detroit area, just "parts of the bankrupt metropolis," one of the symptoms being that motorists are afraid to get out and pump gas.
Put in perspective, in 2008 there were 1,231 carjackings reported, in 2011 there were close to 850 reported, in 2013 there were 720 carjackings and through May 19 this year there have been 191, making last year's annualized rate 60 per month well above this year's rate of 42.2 per month. Comparatively, Newark, New Jersey's carjacking rate has doubled since 2007, with 382 incidents last year - and 475 in its County - placing it above the per capita rate of Detroit, whereas El Paso, TX suffered only 15 carjackings in 2013.
Gas stations in Detroit are signing up and paying up to be of more help to consumers, though. A "Lighthouse" program run in cooperation with the police certifies 24-hour stations as safe havens once they have installed good lighting and security cameras, have employees who will assist drivers and allow drivers to use their phone for emergency calls. Taking their own initiative, one motorist quoted in the article wears a gun on his hip when he pumps gas, another one won't ever stop for gas at night and runs red lights if she happens to be in the city after sundown.
Yet even though the numbers might not justify the "Carjack City" moniker by themselves, quotes like this one given by an Oakland County, Michigan executive to the New Yorker are sure to make the flames fly higher: "Before you go to Detroit, you get your gas out here. You do not, do not, under any circumstances, stop in Detroit at a gas station! That's just a call for a carjacking."
You can watch the video accompanying the AP piece below.