PREVENTING/SURVIVING A CARJACKING
has decreased in most parts of the country in such crimes as homicide,
burglary and assault.
However, there has been an alarming
increase in carjacking. Carjacking is the fastest growing and potentially the most
dangerous of all the crimes against person and property.
According to the National Crime
Victimization Survey, an average of 49,000 completed and attempted carjackings
occurred in the US each year.
Examples of how dangerous and deadly
a carjacking can be are illustrated in two recent cases.
The first case occurred when a
school teacher was carjacked, kidnapped and murdered.
She was murdered even though she did not resist her kidnapper and
pleaded that she not be harmed.
Ironically, she had a tape recorder
with her at the time, taping the entire conversation with the carjacker,
unfortunately to no avail.
The second case was the criminal
who carjacked and kidnapped two nuns.
He murdered and decapitated one of the nuns.
In both cases the victims of these
heinous crimes did not resist or threaten the criminal in anyway.
most frequent reasons are:
security devices on cars make it more difficult to steal a car, so
carjacking becomes the easy alternative.
rapidly escape the scene of a crime.
steal an expensive or specific make of vehicle to sell in another
country or for parts in a “chop shop.”
most serious and dangerous of all: to kidnap, rob, rape, or murder
the occupants of the carjacked vehicle.
Frequent Victims of Carjacking
preoccupied, not alert or aware of surroundings.
parked in isolated or darkened areas, dark streets, parking lots or
to Prevent Carjacking – How to Protect Yourself While Parking or Entering
in a well lit area.
returning to your parked car, be aware of the surroundings.
Look into the backseat before opening the car door.
As you approach the car, look for someone hiding underneath
the vehicle. At night,
use a flashlight to illuminate under the car and the backseat. Walk with purpose and be alert. Approach your car with key in hand.
Be wary of people asking for directions, handing out fliers,
etc. Trust your instincts.
If someone makes you feel uneasy get in your car quickly.
Lock the doors and drive away.
an anti-theft device that has an ignition shut off button or have
a panic button alarm system that can be activated if you sense trouble.
keep the car filled to at least half a tank of gas and sign up for
a towing service.
that parking lots in shopping areas and work places are the favorite
areas for carjackers, followed by city streets, residential driveways
and gas stations.
to Prevent a Carjacking – How to Protect Yourself While Driving
driving it is important to appear confident and in control.
If you appear lost, weak or preoccupied you increase your chances
of becoming a victim.
your car doors when driving and keep your windows up.
Get fresh air from the air conditioner or fan.
Many carjackings occur at red lights and stop signs.
driving alone, if possible, especially at night.
not leave pocketbooks or valuables on the seat which can be observed
from outside. Place these
items on the floor and the pocketbook under the front seat. The trunk is best.
occurs on weekends more frequently than on weekdays, so be especially
alert on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
you go to a gas station, turn off your ignition and lock your car
when you go to pay the attendant.
not stop if you see a stranger whose car is broken down on the side
of the road. Call for
help via cell phone or gas station phone.
a highway, drive in the center lane.
This reduces your chance of becoming a “bump-and-rob” victim.
and Rob” Carjacking
“Bump and Rob” is a method carjackers use to steal a car and sometimes
kidnap the occupants.
It works like this: a car, usually
with a driver and at least one passenger, bumps the rear of your car in
You stop; get out to check for
damage and exchange information. Then either the driver or one of the passengers (partners)
jumps into your car and drives off.
If you are bumped by another car,
look around and check out the car in the rear view and side mirrors.
Observe the occupants. If
the occupants of the car that hit you look suspicious or make you feel
uneasy, drive away to a populated area.
If possible, jot down the car’s license plate number and description
(make and type). Signal the other driver to follow you. Do not pull over to the side of the road unless there are many
people (witnesses) in the area.
Drive to the nearest police station, firehouse, patrol car or a
busy, well-lit gas station or shopping area.
If you get out of your car to exchange information, assess damage,
etc., take your keys (purse or wallet if you have one) and stay alert.
Another method is where the carjacker
drives in front of the desired car (victim) and slams on the brakes causing
the second car (your car) to run into the front car causing a “fender
bender.” This move is usually
done in slow or moderate traffic, is calculated and causes little or no
damage. You get out to assess
the damage or injuries and exchange information.
At that time, a person in the front car or in another car that
stops behind you, gets out of their car, gets into your car and drives
away, while you are preoccupied exchanging information.
This scenario is usually perpetrated against a car occupied by
to Do If Carjacked
If you are outside your car and approached by a carjacker who is
not armed and demands your car, throw your keys past him as far as you
can. Scream for help or activate your personal safety device to
get attention. Then run from
the area as fast as possible.
If your car is equipped with an
ignition cut-off switch, activate it while getting out of your vehicle.
Do so only if not being closely observed by the carjacker and putting
yourself in danger and you can escape before the miscreant discovers the
car will not start.
Also, if the car locking remote
is equipped with an alarm, activate it while leaving the area.
If you are confronted by a carjacker
who is armed with a knife, gun, or other weapon (hammer, club, etc.),
or if the criminal is violently agitated, excited or angry (many carjackers
are high on drugs or very nervous), give up your car keys and car and
leave the scene (you can get another car but not another life).
If in the auto, get out quickly; leave the keys, pocketbook, etc.,
and leave the area immediately.
Without being obvious, try to get
a description of the carjacker; age, sex, race, height, weight, hair color,
clothes, etc. If possible,
jot down this information when away from the scene.
Call this information to the police along with the type and make
of your car and the direction of flight as soon as possible.
Try to remain calm.
If there is a child in the car
with you, let the carjackers know by informing him in a loud-clear voice
repeating, “my child is in the car.” While
announcing the presence of the child in the car, continue to unbuckle
the child from the car seat. Remove
the child to a safe area and leave as fast as possible.
In the past, many law officers said that victims of carjacking,
especially women, should not resist the criminal act or fight back.
Today, in light of what has happened
to carjack victims such as the school teacher in New Jersey, the two nuns
and others, most law enforcement officers, victim advocates, and self
defense experts recommend that victims should fight back if they are forced
to remain in the carjacked vehicle and feel their life and safety from
assault, rape, etc. is in danger.
Not all people agree with this position, but most agree you have
a better chance of surviving if you resist and fight back.
Recent studies show women (in particular)
who resist do not substantially increase their likelihood of being seriously
injured or murdered (according to Paxton Quigley in her book “Not an Easy
Target” Self Protection for Women).
There are many weapons a victim
of a carjacking situation can use to defend themselves such as pepper
spray, hair spray, keys, pocketknives, wrenches, flashlight, etc.
If you are kidnapped during the carjacking and decide to resist,
it should be done shortly after being abducted or while in a populated
or business area.
Spray, strike, cut, or whatever
is necessary to distract the carjackers, grab the steering wheel and force
the vehicle into hitting parked cars, trees or other vehicles on the road.
This should not be done on a high-speed highway,
but in any area or road where the traffic is at a moderate or slow speed.
The objective is to save your life and end the kidnapping by any
means available and necessary.
If the kidnapper/carjacker is armed
with a handgun and you feel you are in immediate danger, you can take
immediate, aggressive action to protect your life by grabbing the handgun
with both hands and pushing the muzzle away from pointing in your direction.
If the firearm is a semi-auto pistol,
wrap your hands around the slide and squeeze tightly.
If a round is fired the pistol will not cycle and will have a spent
shell in the chamber. If
the handgun is a revolver, wrap both hands around the cylinder tightly.
The revolver cannot be fired if the cylinder cannot rotate a live
round into the chamber (this life saving disarming method is practiced
by many police tactical units as a close up defensive maneuver).
If the carjacker intends to shoot,
it will usually happen when the vehicle is stopped or moving slowly.
If you (victim) can wrest the gun away from the carjacker, it can
be used against him or thrown away, and if made inoperable, you can attempt
to get out of the vehicle and run for safety.
This tactic should be only used as a “last resort” to save your
Some survival experts recommend
that if a carjacking victim is also kidnapped and they feel their life
is in danger if they are taken to an isolated area, they should jump from
the moving car to save their life.
This of course is a “last resort”
effort and has been successful in some occasions when the conditions are
ideal to prevent serious injury or death.
This tactic is possible only when:
vehicle is moving at a slower speed (20 MPH or less) in light traffic,
close to the shoulder.
victim is seated in the passenger side of the car, hands in front
and accessible to the door handle.
kidnapper is distracted and not paying attention.
jumping, the victim should roll up into a ball, knees up, head up, chin
to chest and arms folded across the chest.
The victim lands on their feet and rolls backward (like a parachutist
is a very risky and dangerous method of escape – but it may save your
not all people are willing or able to resist and fight back.
Age is not necessarily a deterrent to fighting back.
When faced with being a victim of a crime, we see many times in
the press where elderly people, men and women, successfully fight back
and overcome criminals. The problem is usually attitude.
Some people have the opinion that if they do not resist (the teacher)
they will be safe. We call
them victims. Other people
are unable to use violence under circumstance, even to protect their own
lives. But most men and women
will react strongly if their children or family are threatened with serious
physical injury or death. It
has been suggested that people who are reluctant to use violence for self
defense should try to put themselves in the mindset that their family
and children are in danger and react accordingly.
Your fear becomes rage and violence.
This phenomenon or primitive reaction has been discussed and taught
by many self defense instructors. Everyone has something in their subconscious
mind or perhaps on the surface of their mind that when tapped can spark
a ferocity that will intensify their ability to fight…think of it as controlled
in the Car
have a right, as a lawful citizen, to seek a concealed weapons permit.
Just a word about having a handgun in the car for self defense.
NEVER leave a gun in the car can be easily stolen
when the car is parked and hard to get to if carjacked.
It could also provide a criminal with a weapon.
If legally licensed to carry a handgun, keep it on your person
where it is accessible in an emergency.
Points To Consider
Here are additional suggestions
for the public in an effort to protect you from a carjacking/kidnapping
thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back taillights, stick
your arm out of the opening and start waving like crazy.
The driver will not be able to see you, but everybody else
will. This has saved
have a tendency to get into their car and just sit (organizing their
days). DO NOT DO THIS!
The predator may be watching and this is the perfect opportunity
for him to get in on the passenger side, put a gun to your head, and
tell you where to go. AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOUR CAR, LOCK THE DOORS AND LEAVE.
aware of your surroundings, especially upon entering your car in a
garage or parking lot. Look
into your car, including the passenger side and back seat before entering
a van is parked next to your car on the driver’s side, enter your
car from the passenger door.
In many cases an attacker will pull the victim into their van
while they are attempting to get into their car.
at the car parked on the driver’s side of the vehicle and the passenger
side. If a male is sitting
alone in the seat nearest your car, you may be better off to walk
back to the mall, work, and get a guard/policeman to escort you to
Carjacking can be one of the most serious crimes perpetrated against
an individual, especially if kidnapped along with the car.
Although most carjackings are only
to take your vehicle for joyriding, or to sell it, a small percentage
is to commit another crime against the owner such as rape, robbery, kidnapping
and murder. So while driving
your car on the street, driveway, or parking it, we must always be alert
to our surroundings and have a defensive mindset, ready to defend us against
The methods of protecting yourself
against a carjacking in this article are not 100% effective in all cases.
There are no guarantees when it comes to dealing with violent criminals,
but these tactics have worked in the past in some cases as reported by
some police agencies and other experts.
They are worth keeping in mind and trying if you become a victim
of a carjacking or any other crime.