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(WDRB file photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police said a teenager driving Monday night in Seneca Park was the victim of a carjacking after believing a fake story about a broken Uber app.

LMPD said it received a call around 11:30 p.m. The victim said he was approached by three people off Pee Wee Reese Way in Seneca Park.

The victim told officers one person said their Uber app wasn’t working and offered him $50 for a ride to an area near Iroquois Park. It’s about a 12-mile, 20-minute drive between the two Louisville parks.

Police said when the driver arrived at an apartment complex off Lawson Lane near Iroquois Park, he was forced from the vehicle, and it was stolen. Police say the car is a four-door Nissan Murano with Kentucky plate 325ZAV.

The victim's family tells WDRB that the teen said before the theft a gun was pointed at him and he was choked by one of the suspects in the back seat. They then stole his wallet, phone and car.  

LMPD said the information in the incident report is consistent with what the victim told officers Thursday. 

Police said the victim described the carjackers as 3 young African American guys between 16 and 19 years old. A police spokesperson said the driver heard the suspects talking about a gun but told responding officers he didn’t see one, as he was forced from the car. Police said one of the suspects has dreadlocks.

WDRB News has confirmed the victim is a student at St. Xavier High School in Louisville. There have been no arrests in this case.

On Wednesday, LMPD reported a sharp rise in carjacking in the city. Data released by spokesperson showed 58 carjackings between June 1 and Aug. 4 in Louisville. The department recorded only 14 in the same period last year. That's an increase of 414%.

"We would just recommend everybody -- elderly, young and old -- make sure you are aware of their surroundings and look out for your neighbors," Seventh Division Maj. Emily McKinley said. "I think a lot of this is done by young kids and young adults who find themselves in an opportunity to commit some sort of crime."

Common tricks used by carjackers, according to crime prevention websites:

  • The Bump: The attacker bumps the victim’s vehicle from behind, and when the driver gets out to assess the damage, the car gets swiped.
  • The Good Samaritan: The attacker(s) stage what appears to be an accident, sometimes simulating an injury. By the time the victim gets out to assist, it’s already too late.
  • The Mechanical Issue Ruse: The vehicle behind the victim flashes its lights or the attacker waves to get the victim’s attention, indicating that there is a problem with the victim’s car. When the driver pulls over to inspect the issue, the vehicle gets nabbed.
  • The Trap: Carjackers follow the victim, and after pulling into their driveway to wait for the gate/garage door to open, the attacker pulls up behind, blocking them in. This could potentially be the most dangerous scenario, as it puts you, your car, and your entire household at risk.

Tips to avoid carjackings, according to the Insurance Information Institute:

  • Always have your mobile phone handy — and charged.
  • Avoid being alone in your vehicle in certain areas, such as high crime neighborhoods, isolated roads and intersections and desolate areas of parking lots.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Pay special attention to people who seem to be lurking or cars that suspiciously follow you into driveways. Call 911 and use your key fob or other car alarm, if you feel a threat.
  • Be wary of how carjackers lure victims. These include bumping your car, pretending to be stranded motorists or flashing their lights as if there were something wrong with your car. In each of these scenarios, you might be tempted to pull over — only to have your car taken. Stay inside with the windows shut and the door locked and, if you feel a threat, drive to the nearest police or fire station.
  • Practice safe parking. Stick to well-lit areas. If you have any doubts about where you parked after the fact, find a security guard to accompany you to your vehicle.
  • Don't sit in your car with the door unlocked or the windows rolled down.
  • Don’t stop at isolated ATMs, which might put you and your bank accounts, as well as your car, in danger.

Police asked that anyone with information on recent carjackings to call the anonymous tip line at 502-574-LMPD (5673).

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