By Lauren Fix, The Car Coach
Carjackings, or the robbery of a car by threat of force by an attacker, has increased significantly since the pandemic began.
Carjackings are becoming a pandemic, and it’s not just happening in certain cities. It’s happening everywhere—gas stations and even at parking lots in apartment complexes.
We’re starting to see it more and more, and you need to be aware of your situation of what’s going on around you. How can you prevent being carjacked?
There are simple steps you can take to avoid being a victim of a carjacking. Much of the prevention is simply the awareness of the threat and thinking about what you would do if something happened.
Fear shouldn’t rule your life, but you should always be aware of your security and surroundings the same way you keep an eye on the road. Pay attention to who and what is around you. Trust your gut. If you feel threatened or alarmed, be cautious and stay alert.
Secure Your Vehicle
The most obvious and simple way to avoid a carjacking is to keep your car doors and windows closed and locked.
Plan ahead and think about your reactions to “what if” scenarios. What would you do if the car in front of you slammed on the brakes or if a threatening person approached your car while stopped at a traffic light?
The carjacker is counting on the element of surprise, but you can counter the attack if you have your own surprise, a quick response to his advance, such as hitting the gas and getting away. Again, trust your instincts. For such a response to a carjacker to be effective, it must be sure and fast.
Other proactive measures to prevent a carjacking:
- Keep computers, cellphones, purses, wallets, and other valuables on the floor of the car and out of sight.
- Avoid contact with pedestrians and other drivers, including eye contact.
- Do not roll your window down for anyone except those you know and law enforcement officers.
- Keep your cellphone ready to call 911 if necessary.
Your car is only one aspect of a carjacking. There are several steps you can take personally to make yourself safer and less likely to be a victim of a carjacking:
- Be ready to get in or out of your vehicle when parking and leaving the car. Don’t stand around with the door open while you fiddle with keys or a cell phone.
- Add or remove items from your trunk quickly.
- Park in well-lit and high-traffic areas.
- Walk from offices or other buildings to vehicles in pairs or larger groups. Or find a security guard to assist you if available.
- Look around your car briefly, including under it, before getting in or out.
- Avoid places where you are isolated and alone.
Common sense can go a long way to protecting you, your passengers, and your vehicles. By taking a few extra steps and precautions and always being prepared to act, you can avoid being a victim.
We all tend to get into our cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and stay in the vehicle checking our cell phone. This makes you a target!
As soon as you get into your car, lock the doors and leave. If the predator is watching you, 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.
Being cautious isn’t just something anyone should know. Men need to be aware of their surroundings, too. Every day we read and hear about horrifying situations like carjackings, muggings, and other crimes. Most of us think that this could “never happen to me.” It could happen to anyone.
Carjacking of parked vehicles depends on the car owner being inattentive to their surroundings. Carjackers, like street robbers, prefer the element of surprise. Most victims say they never saw the carjacker until they appeared at their car door. To reduce your risk of being carjacked, I have listed some common-sense steps below:
- Always park in well-lighted areas, if you plan to arrive/leave after dark
- Don’t park in isolated or visually obstructed areas near walls or heavy foliage
- Use valet parking or an attended garage, if you’re driving alone
- As you walk to your car, be alert to suspicious persons sitting in cars
- Ask for a security escort if you are alone at a shopping center
- Watch out for people loitering in the area or handing out flyers, CD’s, etc.
- If someone tries to approach, change direction, or run to a busy store
- Follow your instincts if they tell you to walk/run away to a busy place
- As you approach your vehicle, look under, around, and inside your car
- If safe, open the door, enter quickly, and lock the doors
- Don’t be a target by turning your back while loading packages into the car
- Make it your habit to always start your car and drive away immediately
- Teach and practice with your children to enter and exit the car quickly
- Always drive with your car doors locked, and windows rolled up
- If you are bumped in traffic, drive to a busy, well-lit area or a police station. Be suspicious of the accident.
- Beware of the Good Samaritan who offers to repair your car or a flat tire. It’s okay to get help, just be alert.
- If an armed carjacker ever confronts you, don’t resist. Look to escape and give them the car.
- Give up your keys or money if demanded without resistance
- Don’t argue, fight or chase the robber. You can be seriously injured
- Never agree to be kidnapped. Throw the cars keys and run and scream for help
- If you are forced to drive, consider crashing your car near a busy intersection to attract attention so bystanders can come to your aid and call the police
- Call the police immediately to report the crime and provide detailed information
- Take your earphones out when pumping gas, walking to and from your vehicle
- Keep your earphone in your pocket, so it’s with you
- When returning a rental car that needs to be refueled; be aware that this is an easy target for carjackers as they get the bonus of your luggage and the vehicle
- If you own a firearm or have a concealed carry permit, be aware of your state laws. Use of your weapon may have restrictions that could get you in trouble too.
You must have situational awareness! Keep your eyes and ears open when out of the car. If confronted with a person with a gun—give up the car. Cars can be replaced—you cannot.
Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®, is a nationally recognized automotive expert, analyst, author, and television host. A trusted car expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics and aspects, energy, industry, consumer news, and safety issues.
Lauren is the CEO of Automotive Aspects and the Editor-in-Chief of Car Coach Reports, a global automotive news outlet. She is an automotive contributor to national and local television news shows, including Fox News, Fox Business, CNN International, The Weather Channel, Inside Edition, Local Now News, Community Digital News, and more. Lauren also co-hosts a regular show on ABC.com with Paul Brian called “His Turn – Her Turn” and hosts regular radio segments on USA Radio – DayBreak.
Lauren is honored to be inducted into the Women’s Transportation Hall of Fame and a Board Member of the Buffalo Motorcar Museum, and Juror / President for the North American Car, Utility & Truck of the Year Awards.
Check her out on Twitter and Instagram @LaurenFix.