NEWARK - Essex County law enforcement is cracking down on what some say has become an epidemic of carjackings in the county.
Since 2009, the number of carjackings has climbed each year, and 2013 looks to be no different. The creation of a task force in 2011 has yet to make a difference in those statistics.
New billboards have been posted that read, "Seconds to carjack. Years of hard time." The agencies say the billboards are their way of educating anyone who thinks carjacking isn't a serious crime.
The billboards truly put a "face" to the crime. The man featured on one of the billboards, Jahlil Thomas, of Newark, is serving 22 years in federal prison for carjacking.
"People who are thinking about doing this kind of crime don't really appreciate how dangerous it is for them," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman says. "We all know how dangerous it is for us."
Officials say there were more than 330 reported incidents in 2010, and just over 400 in 2012, but this year is on track to be the worst of all.