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Carjackers will drive themselves to severe penalties in Detroit

Carjackers, you have been warned.

A new effort launched Monday in Detroit and Flint, Michigan, warns would-be thieves that carjacking is a federal crime, punishable with up to life in prison, or in some cases, death.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade hopes the campaign, “Carjacking is a ride straight to prison,” will act as a deterrent and raise awareness of the stiff penalties associated with the crime.

“The offenders are often stunned when they find out the kinds of penalties they face,” McQuade said Monday at a press conferences in Detroit. “We’re hopeful that if would-be criminals have this information, it’ll have a powerful, deterrent effect.”

According to the Detroit Free Press, to date, the city of Detroit has seen 167 carjackings this year, compared to 180 at this time last year, an 8 percent decline. Flint has seen just one carjacking this year, compared to 12 last year, and 19 the year before.

So far, three billboards featuring the slogan “Carjacking is a ride straight to prison” were erected in the two cities.

The federal armed carjacking law, which took effect in 1992, carries penalties of up to 15 years in prison for each count; 25 years if someone is seriously injured; and life in prison or the death penalty if someone is killed. If a gun is used in the carjacking, extra years are added to the sentence.