JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Police in Jacksonville say there have been several similar carjacking and armed robbery crimes in the same part of the Westside, and they all may have been carried out by the same criminals.
Monday's attack of a couple happened along Renault Drive South in the Jacksonville Heights area. The other crimes happened within just a few miles of that area.
The run-ins involved several people wearing hoodies, yelling and pointing guns. And some of those attacked are reporting a similar way the robbers are approaching them.
Amanda, who didn't want to give her last name, explained what happened to her husband Tuesday night. He was at work Friday and couldn't talk.
"Somebody threw and hit his truck with a rock, and he stopped and backed up and asked the guys if they hit his truck," Amanda said. "One of the guys had a gun, and when he saw the gun raise up, he hit the gas pedal and called 911 and came home."
Amanda said she's so thankful her husband didn't get out of the car and didn't get hurt. But what happened is alarming.
A similar occurrence happened in the same area Monday night.
"I was just petrified with fear," a woman who was attacked said.
In that case, a couple said they did stop and got out of their car to find several men pointing guns at them. The men in this case stole their money, cellphones, and sped off in their SUV after getting violent with the two.
"He hit me in the back of the head, I think with the back of the gun," the man who was attacked said.
There have been even more attacks with a very similar M.O. in the same area over the last two weeks. A Jacksonville Sheriff's Office employee was attacked after he was parking his car outside his home. The criminals stole his stuff and his car. And another man was confronted by gunmen in his driveway. The robbers got off with his car as well.
"People in that area need to be on the lookout," Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson said.
He said those who fall into a similar situation are safest in trying to get away in their car.
"Don't stop then and there, don't get out of your car," Jefferson said. "Drive to a well-lit place, a populated place. If you find damages on your car, contact the police."
Detectives with the Sheriff's Office say they have recovered all three of the cars that were stolen, but they haven't made any arrests yet. They say they do have some persons of interest they're looking at, but they still need tips from the public.
Anyone with any information about the attacks is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.