More than 3,000 vehicles have been stolen in Memphis this year, police say

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Sean Paul said his stepdad was kidnapped while getting gas at the Marathon gas station at the intersection of American Way and Lamar Avenue in Oakhaven.

“He had the doors unlocked and three people proceeded to get in his car with a gun. They held him at gunpoint and told him to drive around,” Paul said.

RELATED: Man charged with 5 carjackings after woman’s car stolen at gunpoint, police say

Paul said, shortly after, the gunmen took over his Ford Escape and held him hostage for about six hours.

“They had him drive around until like four in the morning then they left him at a gas station. And, he proceeded to call the cops and tell them all that happened,” Paul said.

Carjackings, thefts from vehicles and vandalism are on the rise, forcing the Memphis Police Department (MPD) to issue a PSA, warning drivers to be on the lookout.

“Whenever you’re out, there is a great likelihood, a great possibility that you might become the victim of a crime such as a carjacking,” said crime analyst Mike Collins.

RELATED: Thieves target Kia and Hyundai models that are easier to steal, MPD says

In fact, MPD reported more than 3,000 vehicles stolen in Memphis as of July 15, 2022.

“It’s a number of people involved in this particular crime. Because one, to take the property. What are you going to do after you retrieve it? I understand they’re selling parts and doing other things with it,” Paul said.

PHOTOS: Men carjacked woman at Memphis apartments, police say

Here are some tips to reduce your chances of becoming a victim.

“Always take your keys with you. Never leave your vehicle running unattended. Always lock your vehicle,” said the Memphis Police Department.

As for Paul, he said he is grateful his stepdad made it home following his harrowing experience.

“The next day, they caught the people in the car,” Paul said.

24-year-old Caran Stokes is facing a carjacking charge. Stokes is accused of using blue and red emergency lights to pull a car over in Orange Mound Sunday.

RELATED: Man carjacks Kia, rams into police car during arrest, MPD says

Investigators said the suspect then pointed a gun at the victim’s head, ordered him out of the vehicle and took off. We’re told Memphis Police Officers spotted Stokes in the stolen vehicle two days later. Police said they attempted to pull him over but he took off. Police gave chase and he wrecked hitting a police car and another car, according to MPD.

“More needs to be done to stop that rehabilitate and stop that repeat criminal conduct,” said Amy Weirich, (R) Shelby County District Attorney General.

If convicted, Stokes is an example of the repeat offender Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich is referring to.

RELATED: Tennessee’s ‘Truth in Sentencing’ law takes effect

Stokes was convicted of attempted carjacking back in 2020. Stokes was given a six-year sentence but it was suspended to probation. But, it looks as though he may be contributing to the more than 3,000 stolen cars this year, according to MPD data.

“We’ve had sentencing laws in place that get people through the system too quickly. And so, there is no opportunity for them to be rehabilitated,” said Weirich.

But, effective July 1st, the controversial law “Truth and Sentencing” took effect.

Under this law, people are required to serve their full sentence, not a fraction.

“No more cuts in time, no more reductions in time and so hopefully that will help us shut the prison door and stop the bleeding,” said Weirich.