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Stealing a car by force has
captured headlines across the country.
Statistically your chances of being a carjacking
victim are very slim, and prevention actions can
reduce the risk even more.
Tactics for Safety
Carjacking - What is it?
Carjacking is a violent crime that has been on a
dramatic increase. It is a crime in which a car
is taken from a person by force--at gunpoint or
knifepoint, for instance.
Carjacking may occur for
To flee a crime scene, to feed a drug habit,
for gang initiation, of just for kicks.
Carjacking is extremely
dangerous for the victim
As carjackers have been known to seriously
injure or even kill their victims
Why is Carjacking a
No one knows for certain, but some explanations
It's a crime of opportunity
- a thief searching for the most vulnerable
Sometimes it's the first step in another crime.
For some young people, carjacking may be a rite
of passage, a status symbol, or just a thrill.
Cars, especially luxury ones, provide quick cash
for drug users and other criminals.
Sophisticated alarms and improved locking
devices make it harder for thieves to steal
unoccupied cars. It's easy to buy, steal, or
barter for guns in this country. And a pointed
gun makes a powerful threat. More teens and
adults commit crimes of violence than ever
before. Intense media interest may have created
Most local and state criminal codes don't define
"carjacking." It's reported as either
auto theft or armed robbery. This means that no
solid statistics exist on time, place, and
victims. Though carjackings can occur anytime, a
sizable share appear to take place during the
late night hours. Carjacking isn't just a
problem in large cities - it happens in suburbs,
small towns, and rural areas. Carjackers look
for opportunity. They don't choose victims by
sex, race, or age.
Golden opportunities: what do carjackers look
Intersections controlled by stop lights or
Garages and parking lots for mass transit,
shopping malls, and grocery stores.
Self-serve gas stations and car washes.
ATMs (automated teller machines).
Residential driveways and streets as people get
into and out of cars.
Highway exit and entry ramps, or anyplace else
that drivers slow down or stop.
The "Bump and Rob"
It works like this. A car, usually with a driver
and at least one passenger, rear-ends or
"bumps" you in traffic. You quickly
get out to check the damage and exchange
information. Either the driver or one of the
passengers jumps in your car and drives off. If
you're bumped by another car, look around before
you get out. Make sure there are other cars
around, check out the car that's rear-ended you
and who's in it. If the situation makes you
uneasy, memorize or jot down the car's tag
number and description; signal the other car to
Drive to the nearest police
station or to a busy, well-lighted area. If you
do get out of the car, take your keys (and purse
or wallet if you have one) with you and stay
Reduce Your Risk
Walk with purpose and stay alert.
Approach your car with the key in hand. Look
around and inside the car before getting in.
Be wary of people asking for directions or
handing out fliers.
Trust your instincts - if something makes you
feel uneasy, get into the car quickly, lock the
doors, and drive away.
On the Road
Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up (at
least part-way, if it's hot and you don't have
air conditioning), no matter how short the
distance or how safe the neighborhood.
When you're coming to a stop, leave enough room
to maneuver around other cars, especially if you
sense trouble and need to get away. Drive in the
center lane to make it harder for would-be
carjackers to approach the car. Avoid driving
alone. Go with someone whenever possible,
especially at night.
Don't stop to assist a stranger whose car is
broken down. Help instead by driving to the
nearest phone and calling police to help.
Park in well-lighted areas, near sidewalks or
walkways. Avoid parking near dumpsters, woods,
large vans or trucks, or anything else that
limits your visibility. Never leave valuables in
plain view, even if the car is locked. Put them
in the trunk or out of sight. Try to park in a
garage with an attendant. Leave only the
ignition key, with no identification. Even if
you're rushed, look around before you get out
and stay alert to the surroundings.
If It Happens to You...
If the carjacker threatens you with a gun or
other weapon, give up your car. Don't argue.
Your life is worth more than a car. Get away
from the area as quickly as possible. Try to
remember what the carjacker looked like - sex,
race, age, hair and eye color, special features,
clothes. Report the crime immediately to the
Work with Neighborhood Watch groups, law
enforcement, automobile club, and other
concerned groups to get the word out about
carjacking prevention. Try a special flier, a
community forum, posters. Make sure that driver
education classes talk to teens about preventing
carjacking and other auto theft.
Call the local radio station
and ask the manager to air carjacking prevention
tips during commuting hours. Ask your insurance
agent or company to put carjacking and other
auto theft prevention information in notices and
bills. Enlist parking lot owners, shopping mall
security, and transit authorities to print and
distribute educational materials with carjacking
prevention tips. Place carjacking prevention
fliers or brochures in the waiting rooms or
dealer service departments, auto repair shops
and gas stations. Ask your state's Motor Vehicle
Administration to display carjacking and auto
theft prevention advice - posters, handouts,
etc.- in its offices and distribute prevention
tips in all mailings.
argue. Your life is worth more than a car.
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