December 17, 2013 Essex County, New York (CBSNewYork) — A young Hoboken attorney who was shot to death during a carjacking at The Mall at Short Hills on Sunday night is the latest victim in a rising tide of violence being waged by thugs stealing cars at gunpoint, law enforcement officials said Monday.
The fatal shooting of Dustin Friedland, 30, by two men after they rolled up on him and his wife in the parking deck on Sunday night is the latest — and deadliest — of the more than 400 carjackings reported in Essex County this year, officials said.
It also may be a signal that the crime that has been mainly been limited to urban areas may be spreading to the suburbs. Carjacking occurs so frequently in Newark, Irvington, and East Orange that, earlier this year, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office began a billboard campaign to raise public awareness about the seriousness of the crime.
While carjackings have been relatively rare in Bergen and Passaic counties, “it’s been an escalating problem [in Essex County] since 2009,” said Katherine Carter, a spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office. The billboard campaign, she said, was aimed at young people who often steal cars to “joy-ride” and to use them to commit other crimes. And because anti-theft devices have become so effective, it’s easier for a thief to steal a car with the driver behind the wheel.
“They need the drivers to be in the cars in order to get the keys,” she said.
In 2011, the last year for which full data are available, 379 carjackings were reported in New Jersey, and 277 of them occurred in Essex County, according to an annual report published by the state Attorney General’s Office. In one of those incidents, an off-duty corrections officer, Debora Ferreira, was killed by her assailant in Newark.
Passaic County reported eight carjackings in 2011, and Bergen County had one, according to attorney general’s statistics. Paramus police say they haven’t had a carjacking within the borough, which includes several malls, since 2005.
“It’s not something that has been a big problem in Bergen County,” said Brian Higgins, chief of the county Police Department.
The Short Hills mall shooting comes a month after a gunman entered the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus. It was evacuated as a 20-year-old Teaneck man fired randomly into the ceiling before eventually committing suicide in a remote section of the building.
In light of Sunday night’s attack, Higgins offered some common-sense suggestions for shoppers. If possible, don’t shop alone, and don’t park in out-of-the-way corners of the parking lot. And never resist if you encounter an attacker. “Whatever he wants, just give up, because nothing is worth the cost of your life,” Higgins said.
Carter would not say whether Friedland resisted on Sunday night. “That’s part of the investigation,” she said. It does not appear that the attackers were after money; neither Friedland nor his wife was robbed, she said.
The bad news about carjacking is that is that the suspects are rarely captured. Of the 379 carjacking incidents reported in 2011, there were arrests in only nine cases, roughly 2 percent of the crimes, the attorney general’s report says.
Friedland and his wife, Jamie, were Christmas shopping and had just returned to their 2012 Range Rover when the two assailants rolled up in a green sport utility vehicle, possibly a Subaru, authorities said. Carter declined to say whether Friedland struggled with his assailants, but he was shot in the head as they tried to enter the Range Rover with his wife in the front seat. Friedland’s wife managed to escape the vehicle unharmed, and both were later taken to Morristown Memorial Medical Center, where Friedland was pronounced dead.