Police have arrested a teenager who they say hijacked a pizza delivery driver in North Philadelphia on Tuesday night and then took off in the victim’s van as the man’s girlfriend and three young children were still inside.
Investigators say Shaun Triplett, 18, lured the delivery driver in an attempt to take his vehicle, then threatened to shoot the man’s girlfriend as he drove her and her children down a half -mile, said Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Naish, who oversees investigations.
No one was hurt.
The incident was the latest in an alarming spike in carjackings in Philadelphia, which began in 2020 amid a spike in gun violence in the city and has continued throughout the year. Naish said more than 300 carjackings were reported in the first 11 weeks of 2022, more than was reported in 2019.
The spike prompted police to convene a task force of investigators who work with state and federal investigators and focus exclusively on solving carjacking cases.
READ MORE: Carjackings in Philadelphia are at an all-time high. Officials don’t know why.
Triplett was apprehended by police near North 31st Street and Euclid Avenue, and officers recovered a semi-automatic handgun. He faces charges of carjacking, kidnapping and unlawful weapons. He did not have a lawyer listed on Wednesday.
Police say the initial carjacking happened around 10:50 p.m. in the 2700 block of Warnock Street, where a 36-year-old driver was called to deliver pizza. The man had his 35-year-old girlfriend and their three children – aged 8, 6 and 2 – with him at the time. Naish said investigators believe the driver was “lured there for the purpose of the carjacking”.
The driver told police that when he got out of his vehicle to drop off the pizza, a masked man got into the van and drove off. The woman told investigators that a brief scuffle ensued and the driver threatened to kill her, so she jumped out of the van.
Meanwhile, police in a helicopter were following the van to 12th and Cambria streets, about half a mile from the carjacking. According to police, Triplett got out of the van and jumped into a sedan with two other unidentified men, then fled to the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, where he was captured minutes later.
The children were reunited with their parents soon after.
Naish said the sedan was reported stolen in an earlier carjacking. He said Triplett has not been charged in connection with the case and the investigation is ongoing.