It’s everyone’s worst nightmare. You’re idling at a stoplight, listening to your favorite tunes, and thinking about the upcoming weekend. Suddenly, a gun is pointed right at you, and a terrifying stranger demands you get out of the car. What do you do?
Why Does Carjacking Happen?
Incidents of carjackings have skyrocketed in 2021. Many cities are reporting an increase in the number of carjackings: Chicago (up 50%), New Orleans (up 126%), and Oakland (a 38% increase). Many cities don’t track carjacking specifically, instead of calling it auto theft or armed robbery, so those numbers are probably lower than the reality. Carjacking doesn’t just occur in cities: it can occur anywhere.
Some experts blame the pandemic for the spike in cases. Everyone is wearing a mask, so if you see someone wearing a mask approaching your car, you might not panic. Social services are limiting services due to the pandemic, and kids don’t have anywhere to go. The FBI doesn’t keep carjacking statistics either, but the general feeling is that carjackers are usually between the ages of 9 and 17.
Another factor is that modern cars are more difficult to steal if they’re parked. They have alarms, anti-theft technology and some will only start with a specific keyfob. Believe it or not, stealing a car at gunpoint is a lot faster and easier for a criminal.
Where Do Carjackings Happen?
Carjacking is often a crime of opportunity. Carjackers are looking for drivers who appear distracted, and they often work at night and in dark areas such as parking garages. The ideal time to carjack someone is when they are just getting into or exiting their vehicle. Carjackings can also occur when people are leaving an event, and 92% of carjackings occur when victims are alone in their car.
How Can You Avoid Being the Victim of a Carjacking?
First, be aware of your surroundings. Don’t walk to your car while simultaneously texting a friend and ordering from Grubhub. Here are some other tips to keep yourself safe:
- Parkin well-lit and well-populated areas
- Lock your doors while driving
- Look for anomalies in your environment
- Avoid parking next to vans and large vehicles that can keep criminals hidden
- Always inspect your car before getting into it
- Walk with purpose
- Try to avoid driving alone at night, especially if you need to drive through high-crime areas
- Keep your windows rolled up
- Be especially cautious at ATM’s
- Keep valuables hidden
- Once you get into your car, start driving. Don’t fiddle with the radio, text people, or update social media
- If you feel you are being followed, do not drive home. Go to the nearest police station
- Take your purse and your phone with you when you get out of the car
The Insurance Information Institute advises you to mark your VIN prominently and use a permanent marker to put the number under the hood of the car and in the trunk. This makes it harder for thieves to resell the car and much easier for the police to trace it.
Many newer cars have safety features such as automatically locking the doors after you get into the car. Make sure this feature is turned on if your car offers it.
When idling in traffic, make sure you can see the tires of the car in front of you. Just in case you need to maneuver around the car, you’ll need space. Should you see someone sketchy approaching your vehicles, you’ll be able to drive away. Don’t forget you can drive in the breakdown lane, or even on the sidewalk if you have to.
Beware of the bump and run. Some enterprising carjackers bump into a car from behind. When the driver gets out of the car to inspect the damage, they are held up at gunpoint and their car is stolen. Should you get rear-ended, drive to a well-lit, busy area. Alternatively, drive to a police station. If someone accidentally hits you from behind, they’ll understand.
Sometimes a carjacker will flash their lights at you, indicating you have a problem of some sort. When you pull over to check out your car, the accomplice points a gun at you and drives off with your car.
Additional Read: 8 Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring Security Guard Services.
How to Survive a Carjacking?
In spite of all this sound advice, you’ve got some armed, impulsive teenager pointing a gun in your face and demanding your vehicle. What do you do?
The most important safety tip is: just give the carjackers the car. You can always get another car. You can’t get another life.
If you have kids in the car, get them out. Tell the carjacker they can have the car, but you need to take your kids. If your kids can get themselves out, tell them to do so and move away from the car to a safe area.
Don’t fight back. Carjackers have a gun—you do not. Even if you do, carjackers are frequently young, with poor impulse control. They act without considering consequences.
Do everything you can NOT to get into the car with the carjacker. Scream, run, or fight if you have to—you do not want to be taken somewhere to be raped or killed.
What to do After a Carjacking?
Remember as many physical details of the carjackers as you can. Call the police as soon as possible and file a police report. Notify your insurance agent that your car was stolen and start the claims process. Many insurance companies have mobile apps, so you can report the crime quickly.
If your house keys were on the same ring as your car keys, consider getting your locks changed.
Being the victim of carjacking is an incredibly stressful event. Give yourself some time to regroup. Your sense of safety has been damaged. Be kind to yourself, and if you find you can’t move on, consider talking to someone.
Consider Personal Protection Services to Avoid Carjacking
There are situations where your personal safety may be at risk. Firing a mentally unbalanced individual, certain high-profile events, or protecting visiting dignitaries are all services we provide at U.S. Security. Just give us a call at 773-455-1220 to discuss your security needs and we’ll be happy to help.
Stay safe, stay alert, and if someone tries to carjack you, just give up the car. You don’t want to risk your life for your car, do you?