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 what's going on around you.
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 you would 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 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.
DON'T: We all have a tendency to get into our cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just stay in the vehicle checking their cell phone. This makes you a target!
DO: 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 women should know. Men need to be aware of their surroundings, too. Everyday we read and hear about horrifying situations like car jackings, 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, CDs, 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 OK to get help, just be alert.
- If you are ever confronted by an armed carjacker 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 ear phones out when pumping gas, walking to and from your vehicle.
- Keep your ear phone out in your pocket so its with you.
When returning a rental cars that needs to be refueled; be aware, this is an easy target for car jackers 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 you 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 the gun — give up the car. Cars can be replaced — you cannot.
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