NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Police are looking for the suspects behind at least four armed carjackings across Queens and Brooklyn.
The thefts happened between October 15 and 27.
In all of the incidents, which have been linked to the same crew, investigators say the robbers first rear-ended the victim's vehicle and as they checked out the damage, the suspects pulled out a gun then drove off with both cars.
In two of the four cases, the victims were punched and kicked. All but one of the incidents happened after midnight.
Officials say this pattern seems to involve cars being briefly stolen. Nearly all of the cars in this pattern were later recovered abandoned and are back with their owners.
Investigators released a video of one of the incidents to help identify the suspects.
Former NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce says drivers need to be alert.
"It's dangerous and it's late at night. Not a lot of people on the road," he said.
In September, a driver was rammed and eventually cornered by thieves in a wild armed robbery on the streets of Manhattan. The victim was targeted, in this case, not for his car, but his cash.
Carjackings have skyrocketed since the pandemic, from 112 in 2018 and 132 in 2019 to 328 in 2020 and 511 in 2021. Overall car thefts are up 123% so far this year.
Chief Boyce says the advice is simple.
"When you do get struck like this out of nowhere, take a look-a long, hard look in the rearview mirror," he said. "If more than one person gets out of the car, you should get out there as quick as you can. You see multiple people getting out of a car? That's a problem."
Robert Sinclair is with the AAA.
"We always say it's best not to resist, you know? Keep comprehensive insurance coverage on your vehicle so that you can get something back in case the vehicle is not recovered," he said. "But your life is worth more than a vehicle."
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at https://crimestoppers.nypdonline.org/, or on Twitter @NYPDTips.
All calls are strictly confidential.
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