BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Birmingham Police announced a string of arrests related to carjackings in the city’s Southside since the start of the New Year.
Birmingham Police tell WIAT 42 News that they do not suspect the carjackings are gang related.
Deputy Chief Henry Irby says 18-year-old Terrell Banks is accused of carjacking a victim at gunpoint around 2:20 p.m. on Jan. 5 as she was getting groceries out of her car.
Investigators say it happened in the 1700 block of 14th Avenue South.
Banks is accused of stealing the victim’s Chevy Cruze and her iPhone and now faces first degree robbery charges, according to Irby.
There are also four other arrests from two different cases in the same area that happened the next day, according to police.
Investigators tell us that the victim was sitting in her vehicle in the 1400 block of 14th Avenue South at around 7 p.m. when she was approached by one of the suspects.
Investigators say 17-year-old Ashton Hill produced a handgun and demanded that she get out of the vehicle, at which point the victim fled with her keys. According to police, another suspect present fired a shot from a handgun, but no one was hit. The suspects fled without the victim’s vehicle, according to police.
Deputy Chief Irby says Hill turned himself in with his mother on Jan. 12 and was charged with Robbery in the 1st Degree.
Birmingham Police say 18-year-old’s Robert Prowell and Damondre Miller were also charged in connection to the case and were arrested during a separate incident on Jan. 7, 2016.
“On Jan. 6, 2016 at about 7:45 p.m. a victim was looking for his wallet and the suspect approached him demanding his phone and keys. The suspects fled the location in the victim’s Ford Escape,” said Irby. “On Jan. 7, robbery detectives obtained information and the possible whereabouts of the victim’s vehicle and patrol officers were able to locate it in the 1500 block of Pearson Avenue. The vehicle was occupied by three suspects and they were detained.”
Investigators say that Prowell and Miller are facing armed robbery charges related to the theft and 20-year-old Tyrese Sanders was charged with Receiving Stolen Property in the 1st Degree.
The Deputy Chief says investigators do not believe that gang involvement played a role in the carjacking’s at this point.
“I want you to think about this for a second. Some of the trends in carjacking’s as we all know is theft being used to commit other crimes. There is also theft for parts we also have theft for joyrides, but most recently in 2015 we saw a slight uptick in theft being committed by juveniles just because they needed someplace to go. They needed transportation to get home. This is very disturbing and it’s hard to fight,” said Irby.
“I’m not saying that these particular suspects used those vehicles simply for transportation. I’m just saying there’s been a trend that we’re looking at and we’re starting to keep track of that to see if that trend is truly continuing,” he continued.
Birmingham Mayor William Bell said he wanted the public to know that the police are on top of the situation and making arrests, but he also wants people to be vigilant. Bell recommended that residents form neighborhood block watches and report any suspicious activity.
Irby said the time of day was once a factor in the likelihood of a person being carjacked, but not anymore.
Copyright 2016 WIAT CBS 42