If you are afraid of being carjacked, you are certainly not alone. Depending on your location, carjackings might be a rather legitimate concern at this time. Where I live, I hear about armed carjackings almost daily. A person a few blocks from me was a victim in their own driveway.
First of all, if an attacker threatens you with a weapon, give up your vehicle and make a police report. Don’t risk your life to try to save your car. However, the goal is to avoid an attack and prevent yourself from being in a carjacking situation in the first place. Knowing your surroundings and using your best judgement when driving in unfamiliar areas can help.
Strategies Carjackers Use
Here are a few known ways carjackers strike. As disturbing as these things are, it’s important to be aware of what is going on. This certainly doesn’t help with my fear of passing out in public either.
Bump and Run
While stopped at a red light, the carjackers will bump your car to make it look like a minor fender bender. Once the driver gets out of the car to exchange information, the offenders will jump out and attempt to steal the car.
If you are in an accident and feel it may be a bump and run, do not get out of your vehicle. Grab the license plate and call 911. Slowly and carefully drive to the nearest police station or another safe location. Always drive with your doors locked and carry
Parking lots and garages are other popular locations for carjackings. If you need to park near a commercial area, try to park as close as you can to the entrance or where you see other people. If the lot or garage has surveillance cameras, choose a parking spot near them or at least close to a well-lit area.
Do not sit in the car and talk on the phone. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Load any bags or groceries into your vehicle as quickly as possible. Keep your keys in your hand, so you can hit the alarm if you feel threatened.
Any Car is Fair Game
It seems like certain vehicle models are targeted more than others. Although this is true, don’t let it give you a false sense of security. If a carjacker sees an opportunity, they will take it. A family member of mine left their car running in the driveway to run in the house quickly. When they came out, the car was gone.
The car they were driving was far from flashy or expensive, but leaving it open and running was an invitation to be stolen. The police were able to see that the thieves were joyriding all over the place in this stolen vehicle, but they were never able to catch them.
Thankfully, no one was hurt and insurance sent a check for a replacement, but it’s still a violating feeling and a huge pain to deal with. Phone calls, paperwork, and sleepless nights trying to wonder what else you had in the car that’s now being trashed–I wish this on no one!
Follow you Home
As mentioned above, a person in my neighborhood was targeted in their driveway. People followed her home and waited until she was parked to jump out and steal her car. It’s important to keep an eye out. If you feel like you are being followed or notice anything suspicious, just keep driving.
Since these occurrences are often at night, it might be helpful to install motion lights on your driveway. Set it up so a bright spotlight shines on you as soon as you pull in. Ring or Blink security cameras are a good idea, too, although many attackers now wear masks.
Again, don’t sit in your driveway. Many of us like to finish listening to that song or continue that conversation before we get out of the car, but it’s time to tuck and roll these days.
Box you In
Another strategy carjackers use is to box you in. There may be multiple vehicles involved in this case, where one squares off to block you in the front and another pulls in back. Do not exit the vehicle if this happens to you. Lock your doors and windows and look for any space to drive through. Don’t even worry about hitting the cars, just try to drive away.
Carjacking Safety Tips
The fact that carjackings are happening so close to home for me leaves me hyper-alert about this topic. Even if this crime isn’t at the top of your mind, there are still ways to prepare yourself and leave yourself less open to an attack.
Buddy system – if bringing a friend is an option, do it, especially at night. Safety in numbers is always a great choice.
Stay alert – stay off your phone and extra alert when you are driving, parking, or in popular carjacking areas.
Never leave your car running – not even to run back into the house for a minute.
Don’t leave kids or dogs in the car – ever. There are a million reasons not to do this ever.
Look around you – before exiting your vehicle, look around out the windows to make sure you don’t see anyone creeping around.
Don’t hang out in the car – get out and get in as quickly as possible upon arrival.
Stay in the vehicle if you’re hit – the time to stay in the car is if you’re in a minor accident and feel like it’s a setup.
Lock it up – keep your doors locked and windows closed at all times.
Install an anti-theft device – if you live in an area where carjackings are high, look into devices that you can install on your vehicle.
Don’t put your address into your GPS – put general cross-streets as your “home” address in your navigation system. No reason to give the criminals your house address if they do manage to swipe your vehicle.
Run – if you are removed from your vehicle by a carjacker, run as fast as you can away from the car. The last thing you want is for them to take you as a hostage.
Learn self-defense – again, the goal should be to get away. Let them take your car because your life and safety are more important. However, learning self-defensive moves is always a good choice to feel more prepared in case of a fight.
Don’t pull over to help – ugh, I hate this one because we should always help others, but if you are in an area where crime is on the rise, it could be a trap. Use your phone to safely call the authorities to help them instead of putting yourself in danger.
Here are some more tips from the Chicago Police Department.
Yeah, so I certainly didn’t need a new fear of leaving the house unlocked, but here we are.
I don’t recommend anyone live in constant fear of carjackings, but being aware is a good idea. For me, life is a balance between staying positive and staying realistic! I don’t want to manifest bad things by dwelling on them, but I do what I can to minimize risks.
If you live somewhere that is experiencing a lot of carjackings, lookout for yourself and others. Stay alert and stay safe!