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department of Public Safety

Preventing carjacking

Carjacking has become the new rage among criminals. Even though the crime is not new, the idea is becoming popular among criminals. Carjacking is not just limited to larger cities.

Carjacking is often a violent crime when

  • One or more robbers approach a driver who is either in his or her car or about to enter or leave it.
  • The robber(s) point a gun or other weapon at the driver and force the driver to turn over the car.
  • Often times the victim is robbed of other valuables, abducted and/or raped.
  • The motives for committing the crimes vary from car theft to joyriding or using the vehicle to commit other crime.

Common carjacking schemes

  • Pretending to be a stranded motorist.
  • Faking a fender-bender accident or deliberately getting involved in an accident with the victim.
  • Approaching the victim while the victim is stopped at a traffic light.
  • Approaching a victim in shopping malls, private driveways, apartment complex parking lots.

Rules to drive by

  • Enter your car quickly
  • When you leave the building, have you door keys in hand and be ready to make a quick entry into the car.
  • When entering the car, look into the rear seat for possible suspects.
  • If is safe to do so, enter the car and lock the doors.
  • When exiting your car, look around you before turning off the ignition.
  • Always keep your car doors and windows locked. Thieves often enter through unlocked windows and doors.
  • Stay alert at red lights. Look around you - especially to the sides and rear - so you can be aware of anyone approaching you.
  • When pulling up to a traffic light, be sure to leave enough room between your car and the car in front of you. This will make it possible for you to drive off should someone approach you.
  • Minimize driving at late hours. Nationwide, most carjacking take place between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
  • Consider a cellular phone to call for help.
  • Don't assume you are safe in an inexpensive car. Thieves take those also.

There appears to be no pattern to carjacking. However, experts say that women are more likely to be targeted than men because thieves think that women will put up less resistance. Those driving alone are the most likely victims, though carjackers also approach people accompanied by small children. In most cases, the robbers don't see the small children when they approach the vehicle.

If it happens to you

  • Get your children out of the car.
  • Trust your instincts. There are no absolute rules for what to do in a carjacking. If you think it's feasible, accelerate and try to drive away. Remember, your car is not bullet proof. Your life is more important than the car.
  • Report the crime immediately to the police, attempt to provide as much detail as possible.
  • Try to be prepared to provide at least the following information about the offender(s):
    • Age, race, height and weight
    • Hair color and style, beard, mustache
    • Notable characteristics (acne, scars, glasses, mental state, etc.)
    • Clothing description
    • Location where last seen
    • Last known direction of travel
    • Vehicle description and distinctive marking.
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