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EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) – Carjackings have become a prevalent crime in Northeast Ohio.

Last year there were 433 carjackings in the city of Cleveland.

Cleveland police officer Shane Bartek was murdered in a carjacking on New Year’s Eve.

In December there was a series of carjackings in Little Italy.

Lakewood Police investigated multiple armed carjackings the month before.

“Anytime you’re in a shopping center periodically look around,” said East Cleveland Police Chief Scott Gardner. “Look behind you because they are following you. They are targeting shopping centers and gas stations and things of that nature.”

Chief Gardner says most of these suspects just want your vehicle.

He says to give them what they want, especially if you are with your children.

“Plea,” he said. “I have two kids myself I would plea ‘Hey can I get my kids? Take the vehicle, you can have whatever you want, just let me get my kids.’ The primary focus is your safety, the property is not worth it.”

Police say if your child is already in the car, make sure you tell the suspect. They say that sometimes that will even get the carjacker to leave.

“The carjacker doesn’t want the issues,” Chief Gardner said. “It makes it higher priority for them to get caught as soon as police are notified that children are involved. They don’t want that. They just want the vehicle.”

Police say a lot of carjackers will bump you from behind in a fender-bender, causing you to get out of your car. If you think your family might be in trouble, you can leave the scene without facing charges, as long as you immediately report it.

“Just call 911 or call the police department and say, ‘I was involved in an accident, this is where I am, I’m driving to the police department.’”

If you have older children, Chief Gardner says it’s not a bad idea to talk with them about the uptick in carjackings.

“There is no safe target,” Gardner said. “I can’t narrow it down and say, ‘Hey if you’re driving a red Mazda lookout.’ It’s anybody.”