Teen Carjackers Busted After Pesky Manual Transmission Thwarts Their Scheme: Police


They don’t call them “millenial anti-theft devices” for nothing.

Maryland police said a strong-arm carjacking was reportedly thwarted last weekend because the alleged thieves were sorely lacking one critical skill necessary to pull off the heist: the ability to drive a stick shift.

According to the Montgomery County Department of Police — Major Crimes Division, the incident happened Saturday at a gas station in Germantown.

According to their report, a man had just finished pumping gas and was getting into his car when two male teens ran toward him.

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“The juveniles forced the door open, grabbed ahold of the victim and demanded his keys,” the report said. “The victim complied with the juveniles’ demands.”

But from that point on, the encounter didn’t exactly go off as planned.

“The juveniles entered the victim’s car and attempted to drive away.”

Do you prefer to drive a car with manual transmission?

The key word there is “attempted.”

The video showed some movement taking place in the driver’s seat, but as the seconds ticked by, the car refused to budge.

Eventually, the uninvited guests came to the realization that they were running out of time and were not going to be able to start the car.

“Unable to drive a manual transmission, the juveniles exited the vehicle and left the scene on foot,” the police reported.

A few minutes later, officers saw two juveniles near the scene of the crime.

“When officers attempted to apprehend them, they fled on foot. After a brief foot chase, the juveniles were quickly apprehended,” according to the report.

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Officers detained a 16-year-old from Rockville and a 17-year-old from Washington, D.C.

“Both juveniles were arrested and transported to the Montgomery County Central Processing unit, where they were charged as adults, with one count of carjacking and one count of conspiracy carjacking. They are currently being held without bond,” the report concluded.

It’s not the first case in which a theft was foiled by a manual transmission.

The same Montgomery County law enforcement agency reported a similar incident in February, and the same kind of case has been reported in other areas as well.

The situation is common enough — and comical enough — that it has even inspired its own social media meme:

Unfortunately, such instances are likely to become increasingly rare, as cars with manual transmission go the way of the dinosaur. Carmax reported in 2020 that only 2.4 percent of its vehicles sold had stick shifts, down from 3.7 percent in 2018, and sharply plummeting from 1995, when 26.8 percent of the vehicles they sold had them.

But they haven’t completely disappeared — yet. Motor Trend reported in February that there are 30 vehicles from 17 manufacturers that continue to offer standard transmission as an option for 2023.

The auto-enthusiast news outlet explained the appeal — beyond theft deterrence — of the feature.

“Even in cars without sporting intentions, the ability to row your own gives an engagement and level of control lacking in DCTs and automatics, which is why a very vocal minority of enthusiasts actively pursue keeping clutches in their, well, clutches,” it reported.

Still, they had to acknowledge the fading popularity of the stick shift.

“What used to be a pervasive norm across virtually all performance (and many economy) cars is now an increasingly niche feature disappearing from all but the most enthusiast-driven or least expensive vehicles,” Motor Trend lamented.

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Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.
Lorri Wickenhauser has worked at news organizations in California and Arizona. She joined The Western Journal in 2021.