KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and two Republican state lawmakers are backing a bill aimed at cracking down on carjackings.
Schmitt, a Republican, along with Sen. Bob Onder and Rep. David Gregory were in St. Louis on Monday to promote a proposal that would allow prosecutors to charge suspected carjackers with motor vehicle hijacking. Currently, suspected carjackers are typically charged with robbery.
“The new statue takes into account the near epidemic levels of carjackings in our cities and elevates the potential sentencing with the seriousness of the crime,” Schmitt said. “This is about removing the worst offenders from our streets."
Under the proposal, anyone committing or trying to commit a carjacking with a gun would face at least 10 years in prison if convicted.
Kai McCoy was carjacked in December while sitting inside her car in front of her Kansas City home. A man approached her and asked her for a couple of dollars before telling her that she had a flat tire.
“I made the mistake of getting out of my car with the car still running,” McCoy said about the incident.
The man held her a gunpoint and drove off with her car.
“It was surreal,” McCoy said. “I was lucky to get away with my life, but I have lost trust in my feelings about my environment.”
She thinks the proposed statute will help reduce carjackings but questions if it’s enough.
“I think that it’s a step in the right direction,” McCoy said. “I am concerned there’s not going to be more done to help victims.”
Schmitt said the statute would also "streamline the prosecuting process, increase uniform sentencing, and lead to more accurate statistics relating to carjackings" in Missouri.
Schmitt's office notes that the St. Louis area alone had more than 300 carjacking incidents last year; specific numbers for Kansas City were not available.