I'm sure you've heard of carjacking; some of you may know victims or have been one yourself. Carjacking is has become one of the fastest growing and most prevalent crimes in the world. Carjacking is robbery of a car or vehicle. It happens very quickly and the sole purpose of the crime is to steal your vehicle. Though it could happen to any of us at any time there are methods that you can learn and things to familiarize yourself with that can drastically reduce your chances.
As with most crime prevention tips, the first and most important is awareness. Be alert and aware of your environment at all times. Realize some of the most likely places that carjackings take place.
- Does any of your daily routes take you through high crime areas
- Do you find yourself on rural or less traveled roads, especially at night
- Intersections where you must stop for relights or stop signs can be high risk
- Isolated areas such as parking lots can attract carjackers.
- Traffic jams or congested areas where you are stopped or moving very slow can be a potential hot spot
- Residential driveways, either on your way out or in, you can become a target.
So first and foremost identify and then react to these types of situations if at all possible. If find yourself in any of the above situations on a daily basis your best defense is avoidance. Alter your travel in order to avoid as many potential situations as possible. If after reviewing your options you feel you can not avoid these areas then you need to consider taking some steps to prevent an attack.
Give yourself some "wiggle room". In traffic, don't allow yourself to end up "bumper to bumper" with all the other vehicles. Give yourself some distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. On full car's length is optimal and will give you room to maneuver if needed.
When you are stopped in your vehicle for any reason use your rear view mirror as well as both side mirrors. Get into the habit of doing this routinely. This will make it difficult for anyone to sneak up on you. You should also keep windows and doors locked at all times. Consider carrying some form of self defense product
that you can conveniently carry in your vehicle for use against an attacker.
Accidents are one of the scenarios that carjacker use to rob unsuspecting victims of their cars. One of the common tricks used by criminals is to "bump" the vehicles victim from behind. When the victim gets out to exchange information or call police the carjacker strikes. Within seconds they are in the vehicle and gone.
Another common approach is to stage an accident with injury. When you the Good Samaritan stops to help they steal your vehicle. Carjackers also commonly pull aside another driver and wave, flash lights, or do something to get the other drivers attention. They will then try to convince of a problem with the vehicle. Once they pull over the carjacker strikes and steals the vehicle.
If you are "bumped" by another vehicle or if someone tries to flag you down and alert to a vehicle problem, don't stop until you get to a safe place, ideally a police or fire station. You can also call for help from your vehicle and have law enforcement come to you. If it was an legitimate accident or something is wrong with your vehicle the other party and police certainly understand.
Unfortunately, today you have to be very careful when deciding to help anyone who appears to need it. In most cases, they do, but in a few the carjacker is waiting for you to bite. Think before stopping to assist in an accident. You may be better off calling 911 to report the incident.
What can you do and expect during a carjacking? It is important to recognize that in most carjacking's the criminal(s) have no intention of hurting you. They just want your car. You basically have two options:
- Take a resistive and confrontational approach to an attempted carjacking
- Choose to be non-confrontational and compliant during an attempted attack
Things such as the type of attack, the environment (isolated or public), the mental state of the attacker (reasonable or nervous), how many attackers are present and are weapons present are some factors to consider. Most importantly are children present. Again, our recommendation is to be compliant, don't put up any resistance. You can replace that vehicle and your chances of survival are much greater.
In the non confrontational situation, you would:
- Give up the vehicle freely.
- Listen carefully to all directions.
- Make no quick or sudden movements that the attacker could construe as a counter attack.
- Always keeps your hands in plain view. Tell the attacker of every move in advance.
- Make the attacker aware if children are present. The attacker may be focused only on the driver and not know children are in the car.
In a resistive or confrontational response, you would make a decision to escape or attack the carjacker. A confrontation can be deadly and only those persons who have self defense training
or posses some form of personal protection should even consider this option. Don't try to be a hero, take the "live to fight another day" approach. Should you decide to confront an attacker(s) consider the following:
- The mental state of the attacker.
- Possible avenues of escape.
- The number of attackers; there is usually more than one.
- The use of weapons. (Weapons are used in the majority of carjacking situations.)
- In most instances, it is probably safest to give up your vehicle.
After an attack get to a safe place as fast as you can. Once you feel your in a safe and secure place then you can report the incident. When reporting the crime try to did law enforcement officials the key information needed. What time of day was it when the attack occurred? How did it take place? Who was involved? Give the best possible description of the attacker(s) that you possibly can. Hair color, height, weight, scars or other identifiers, eye color, complexion, ethnicity, and build will all help in the capture.
What was the attacker(s) originally driving? The vehicle license plate number (even partial), the color, make, model and year are extremely important. If you noticed any identifying marks (scratches, damage, dents) or things such as stickers be sure to report.
It is important to remember that in most cases an attack can be prevented by avoidance. Use your personal judgment to evaluate the situation and your possible reactions. Always carry a cell phone for immediate communication. Non confrontation is the recommended course of action and in most cases is the best response. Your main objective is the survive, the vehicle can be replaced, you cannot!