Picture this scenario:
A bag of groceries in one arm, you walk toward your parked car. Your phone rings and you promptly answer when you realize it’s your mom calling. Your car is quite a walk from the store entrance, where there aren’t many other cars parked. When you finally reach it, you fumble for the keys inside your purse.
You’re about to close the door shut when a burly man from nowhere suddenly yanks you out of the vehicle. The next thing you know, you’re lying dazed and confused on the pavement, your purse gone, the groceries scattered on the ground, and your car speeding out of the parking lot without you.
Whatever the heck just happened?
Unfortunately, you’ve just fallen victim to a carjacking.
What is carjacking?
Carjacking, a combination of the words “car” and “hijacking,” is, according to Merriam-Webster Online, “the theft of an automobile from its driver by force or intimidation.” Carjacking is generally a crime of opportunity, the most vulnerable prey often the victims.
There are no definitive statistics to share on carjacking because of the different ways it’s classified among the many law enforcement departments reporting the crime, such as armed robbery or auto theft. But experts believe the reason car thieves resort to carjacking is because of the advanced anti-theft technologies cars now possess. With carjacking, all a criminal does is overpower or threaten the car owner. No need to decode high-end technology.
How to avoid being carjacked
First, be aware of the areas where car thieves are most likely to lurk. Carjackers typically are scouting for an unsuspecting victim in the following locations:
- Garages and parking lots
- Intersections with stop lights
- Self-serve gas stations
- Residential streets or driveways
- Gated community entrances
- Highway exits
- Anywhere you need to stop or slow down
Of course, you can't be completely prepared for a carjacking. To make sure you'll be safe, keep the following in mind:
- Park in well-lit areas. Or near store entrances where there are a lot of people.
- Stay alert. Walk toward your parked car with the key already in your hand. Check the car’s immediate surroundings for anything suspicious. Be aware of nearby cars that are occupied. Check inside your car before getting in. A thief might already be inside, waiting. Be wary of people asking for directions. If your gut tells you something’s wrong, ask someone to escort you to your car. Once inside, lock the doors and drive off as soon as possible.
- Stay off the phone. Nothing screams “distracted” more than Instagramming while inside your car, whether in the parking lot or while waiting for the light to turn green at the intersection.
- Lock your doors and close your windows while driving. Sounds pretty self-explanatory, but this cannot be emphasized enough. You don’t want to give car thieves the opportunity to boot you out of your own car when you stop at the intersection.
- Don’t leave valuables in plain sight. Place your bags, gadgets, and other valuables in the trunk or glove compartment where they’re out of sight.
- Plan your route. Avoid driving in unfamiliar areas or shady neighborhoods. Don’t stop at isolated ATMs to withdraw some cash.
- Keep your car tuned up and full of gas. You don’t want to run out of gas or driving a car that suddenly bogs down while trying to get away from a car thief.
- Allow enough room between your car and the one ahead of you. As a rule of thumb, if you see the rear tires of the car in front of you, then you have enough room to maneuver in case you need to get away.
Carjacking happens, and in many cases, it involves the use of a weapon. Anyone can become a victim, and you’re responsible for your own safety. While the pointers above can reduce your chances of becoming a victim, keep in mind, never argue with a carjacker. Your life is worth more than any car in this world.
Western Slope Driving Institute and its team of expert instructors who have years of experience in law enforcement are committed to equipping you and your young drivers with the necessary skills and know-how so you don’t fall prey to things like carjacking.
Give us a call us today so we can discuss how we can help you.