What Is Carjacking?
Carjacking is the crime of stealing a motor vehicle when the vehicle is occupied. Typically, the carjacker is armed, and the driver is forced out of the car with the threat of bodily injury. In other rarer cases, the driver is kidnapped under the assault by a weapon, or made to drive his or her abductor. Women are particularly victimized in this latter method.
The crime is extremely hazardous, threatening the physical safety of the victim. To secure the car, the carjacker may sometimes shoot the victim or physically push/pull the victim out of the driver’s seat to force him or her out of the car.
Where Does Carjacking Happen?
Carjacking can happen anywhere, but is mostly a big city problem like traditional auto theft. Carjacking occurs most often in a busy commercial area where cars are parked and when the owner is entering or exiting the parked vehicle. Carjackers tend to rob lone victims more often, for obvious reasons.
Popular carjacking locations are parking lots, shopping centers, gas stations, car washes, convenience stores, ATMs, hotels, valet parking, fast-food drive-thru, and outside of retail stores. Close proximity to a freeway on-ramp is a desirable escape factor from the carjackers prospective. A risky, but popular location for the carjacker is a roadway intersection with a stoplight. A carjacker will jump out of another vehicle, pull open your unlocked drivers’ door, and force you to get out. The type of carjacking allows for a quick escape but increases their risk of being followed by other drivers armed with cell phones. There have been incidents where well-meaning citizens got into a high-speed chase following carjackers and ended up being victims themselves.
Another scheme used by carjackers is to bump your car from behind to get you to pull over and stop. We have all been trained to always stop after an accident to exchange license and insurance information. What a perfect scenario for a carjacker! The carjacker, and his accomplice, will follow the intended victim to a suitable location with good escape routes and few witnesses. Typically, the drivers of both vehicles pull over, stop, and get out discussing the damage. At this point the carjacker robs you of your vehicle, its’ contents, and drives away. The carjacker’s car gets driven away by the accomplice.
Carjacking of parked vehicles (or the avoidance thereof) relates to the car owners abundance of (or lack of) situational awareness to their surroundings. Carjackers, like street robbers, prefer the element of surprise. Most victims say they never saw the carjacker until they appeared at their car door. To reduce your risk of being carjacked, here are some tips…
Always park in well-lit areas
Don’t park near or next to obstructions like walls, etc.,
Choose an attended garage or use valet parking
While walking to your car, maintain situational awareness while alert to suspicious people sitting in cars
Ask for a security escort if you are alone at a shopping center and feel uncomfortable
Watch out for loiterers in the area
Maintain a posture of confidence
If being approached, change direction or go to a busy area
As you approach your car from a distance, look underneath
As you near your car, look around, and inside
Open the door and enter quickly, and lock the doors
Don’t become a target by turning your back while loading packages into the car
Once inside the car, start it and drive away immediately
In the city, always drive with your car doors locked and windows up
When stopped in traffic, leave room ahead to maneuver and escape
When stopping, leave enough room such that you can see the rear wheels of the car in front of you
If you are bumped in traffic, be suspicious of the accident
Be cautious of the Good Samaritan who offers to repair your car or a flat tire. It’s okay to get help, just be alert
Wave to follow, and drive to a gas station or busy place before getting out
If you are ever confronted by an armed carjacker, unless you are trained and armed, the best advice is do not resist. Get out willingly. Your life is worth more than your car
Give up your keys or money if demanded without resistance. Your life is worth more than your keys or money
Don’t argue, fight or chase the robber. You have car insurance, right?
NEVER agree to be kidnapped. Drop the cars keys and run and scream for help
If you are forced to drive, consider crashing your car near a busy intersection to attract attention so bystanders can come to your aid and call the police
Call the police immediately to report the crime and provide detailed information