ST PAUL, Minn. — There has been a sharp increase in carjackings across the metro area.
Police departments say the suspects often use the cars to commit other crimes, and even if they're recovered, it can be months before the owner gets it back.
Craig Boettcher first had a car stolen in August and it hasn't been found yet.
"I just thought, you know, I can't believe this is happening to me again," said Boettcher who was then carjacked again in October.
"Things go through your mind like, what should I do? Maybe I should push him away, but it's not worth your life for a car," said Boettcher.
Minneapolis police report 457 carjackings this year — that's up from 104 in 2019.
In St. Paul, there have already been more than 80. Police say the cars are often used to commit other crimes.
St. Paul Police Sgt. Natalie Davis said, "They've been used to commit other carjackings, shootings, shots fired calls, robberies, things like that."
After the crime is committed, Davis says time is of the essence.
"Ideally, after a carjacking happens, the sooner we can get the vehicle recovered the better," said Davis. "The more time that lags, it's not as good for us as far as processing the evidence."
A complicated investigation she says that can take months.
"You have to be able to put the suspects in the car, and let’s say we don’t recover a vehicle for three weeks, there could be many people inside that vehicle," Davis explained.
As for Boettcher, he doesn't expect police will recover the cars taken from him. What hurts him more he says, is that the thieves took his trust.
"I lost that part of me that wants to help people out," said Boettcher. "I’ve traveled a lot through the world and people are great everywhere, you know, but there’s a small group of people that aren’t."
He recommends people walk in pairs, lock your car doors as soon as you get in and put your hand on your horn.
St. Paul police say to be aware of your surroundings and leave space between the car in front of you at a stop light or stop sign as an exit strategy.
If a car bumps into your vehicle from behind to make it look like an accident, Davis says you can drive away.
"Call 911 and say, 'I was just involved in an accident at this location, I felt like something was wrong and now I’m driving to the police station,' or, 'Now I’m driving to the shopping mall,' so you’re in a public place," said Davis. "You didn’t leave the scene of an accident, but you had this terrible feeling that something was going on, so it’s really important to trust your gut."