Philly police working to combat surge in carjackings

Philadelphia Police Capt. John Ryan, of Northeast Detectives, speaks to reporters Thursday, Feb. 17, about a carjacking involving a FedEx driver.
Jack Tomczuk

A FedEx delivery driver was in the back of his truck, apparently sorting through packages, when a man entered the vehicle and pointed a gun at him.

He tied up the driver with a belt and got behind the wheel, crashing the truck about four blocks away. Investigators say the gunman took a couple of boxes and walked away.

The episode is just one of the many examples of carjackings and vehicle-related robberies that have occurred in recent weeks in Philadelphia, a spike that has left some residents in fear.

Authorities said the FedEx driver was not injured, but not all victims are as lucky.

On the same day, Feb. 10, about 12 hours later, a 53-year-old man was shot by carjackers on Torresdale Avenue in Holmesburg, and 60-year-old George Briscilla was killed Feb. 6 during a car robbery while visiting his elderly mother in Rhawnhurst.

Philadelphia Police Department leaders this week said that they are making headway, citing a series of arrests in recent days.

“Investigators are working diligently to ensure the evidence is there to support the cases and keep the violent offenders off the street,” Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Naish said during a virtual news conference Wednesday.

“With all those arrests, we hope to see a decline in the number of carjackings in the near future,” he added.

In an attempt to solicit tips from the public, police released video Thursday from the FedEx robbery, which occurred last Thursday at around 11 a.m. in Frankford.

The carjacker grabbed the truck’s camera, but detectives were still able to recover high-quality video that showed the suspect pulling up the sleeves of his coat, seemingly to prevent fingerprints from getting on the steering wheel.

“You’ll see on the video. It should be easy to identify him,” Capt. John Ryan told reporters Thursday outside Northeast Detectives’ temporary headquarters in Bustleton.

Police said the robber took control of the car on the 4300 block of Tackawanna Street and crashed on the nearby 1600 block of Womrath Street. He was last spotted walking toward Orchard Street.

Many of those who have been apprehended in connection with carjackings are boys and young men.

On Sunday, officers tracked a stolen SUV to a parking lot near the corner of Washington Lane and Chew Avenue in East Germantown, according to Naish. The vehicle had been taken at gunpoint about an hour earlier in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood.

Officers chased down three 14-year-old boys who hopped out of the car. Each had a handgun, and all three firearms were previously reported stolen.

In the pocket of one of the boys were keys to a red Volvo that had been carjacked on Feb. 12, Naish said. It was parked in the same lot.

An 18-year-old man was apprehended in the Crescentville section of Northeast Philadelphia on Feb. 10 about 20 minutes after carjacking a driver in Rhawnhurst.

Cameron Styles
Jamie Maneely Philadelphia Police

Jamie Maneely, 21, and Cameron Styles, 20, were arrested Feb. 11 after allegedly committing a series of robberies in Northeast Philadelphia.

Naish said the duo were responsible for an early morning carjacking at the Forest Hills Regional Rail station in Somerton, and they are also accused of stealing a vehicle from a driver on Torresdale Avenue in Tacony.

Investigators also identified Maneely as the gunman who allegedly robbed a gas station Feb. 10 on Roosevelt Boulevard in the Far Northeast.

The pair were nabbed following a crash on the Boulevard. Officers found a self-assembled 9mm handgun, also known as a “ghost gun,” on Maneely, Naish said. They are being investigated for possible involvement in other crimes.

“Our officers are really out there working hard,” Naish said.