Although it doesn’t receive as much media attention as some other types of crimes, carjacking has once again become one of the top crimes in the country. For unsophisticated car thieves who can’t bypass modern-day car alarms, the crime is an easy way for them to steal a vehicle.
Carjacking is often a quick and brutal crime, one where the criminal uses violence and the force to obtain the vehicle. It’s one of the most dangerous types of crime you can encounter, as there is almost always a weapon and physical attack used during the theft.
- The Department of Justice reports that there are about 49,000 carjackings every year.
- 93% of these crimes occur in cities or the suburbs.
- 92% are committed when the victim is alone in their car.
- 90% of carjackings involved the use of a weapon, most often a firearm.
- Most of these violent attacks happen near the victim’s home or place of work.
The most likely places for a carjacking are:
- High crime areas, mostly in larger urban cities.
- Intersections, or anywhere that you are forced to come to a stop.
- Isolated areas in parking lots: Most often in areas with poor lighting and some type of cover for the criminals to hide behind.
- Home driveways and near gates into gated communities.
- Traffic jams and congested areas.
- Outside of ATMs, where criminals tend to target people because they know the victim will have cash.
Staying Safe: Prevent becoming a Carjacking Victim.
Carjackers tend to target people who are alone, and they usually strike when the person is getting ready to get into their vehicle. Parking lots, gas stations, and outside retail stores are all places where you need to be on alert.
When approaching your vehicle, awareness is your best weapon. It is the single most important thing you can do to prevent this crime.
- Stay alert: Stay alert to what’s going on around you, and watch out for anyone who looks out of place.
- Be Ready: Keep your keys ready when walking out to your car. Fumbling around for your keys can allow a criminal to get the upper-hand.
- Look & Listen: Check the inside of your vehicle before getting in; criminals can sometimes be waiting for unsuspecting victims.
- Know Who’s Lingering Nearby: Watch out for people who are loitering, asking for directions, looking for money or cigarettes, or handing out fliers. These are all techniques that are used by criminals who are looking for a quick and easy target.
- Trust your instincts: Don’t ever underestimate your gut feelings. If something seems out of place, turn around and go back to where you came from. If you can’t turn around, quickly get in your vehicle, lock the doors, and leave the area immediately.
What to do While Driving:
Even those who make it to their vehicle and out onto the road aren’t 100% safe from this type of crime. In fact, roadways are the second most common place for people to be attacked. From stoplights and traffic jams, to criminals who rear end your vehicle to get you to pull over, there are a number of ways these people can target you while out on the road.
Your best line of defense when driving is to make it as hard as possible for criminals to enter your vehicle.
- Keep your doors locked at all times, windows rolled up when driving in the city, and sun roofs closed.
- When coming to a stop, leave at least a vehicle and a half of space between you and the car directly in front you. If something happens, this will give you the room to quickly maneuver around the vehicle and make your way to safety.
- Driving in the center lane can make it harder for criminals to box you in, and can give you more avenues to escape.
- If someone does hit you from behind, keep your guard up. If something doesn’t seem right, stay in your vehicle with the windows rolled up and the doors locked; then call 911.
What to do when you reach your destination:
This is often a time when people are most at risk, primarily because they drop their guard once they reach their destination.
- Park in a well-lit area, near the building’s entrance. Make sure you park around other vehicles.
- Avoid parking near wooded areas, large vans and trucks, or anything that hides your visibility or gives criminals cover to commit their crime.
- Never leave valuables in plain view for people to see.
- Look around before you get out of your vehicle. It may also be a good idea to make a loop around the parking lot to check out the situation before parking.
WORSE CASE SCENARIO: Someone attempts to jack your car…
- Don’t ever Go With: Never get in the car with the criminal, it’s better to lose the car than to lose your life.
- If they have a gun, Run: Statistics show that if you run, you have somewhere around a 90% chance of being safe. If you get in the vehicle, you probably have a 100% chance of something bad happening.
- Crash: If for some reason you couldn’t get away and you’re forced to drive, one option you need to consider is buckling up and crashing your car near a busy intersection. Chances are the idiot carjacker didn’t take the time to buckle up, and will hopefully be hurt during the crash. When that happens, get out of the car and run like hell.