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Protect Yourself From Carjackers

Date Added: February 17, 2016 12:05 pm

Carjacking -- when a car is taken by force or threat of force. It's one of the most frightening, violent, senseless crimes imaginable. Like most offenses, carjacking is a crime of opportunity. Carjackers are looking for easy targets -- unlocked cars with unsuspecting motorists. A few simple, common-sense precautions can dramatically reduce your chances of becoming a victim. Carjacking occurs for many reasons. For instance, anti-theft devices have made it more difficult to steal parked cars. Sometimes, carjackers nab a vehicle to flee a crime scene, transport themselves to another crime or sell the car to feed a drug habit.

A carjacking can occur during any time of day, in a high-crime neighborhood or a well-traveled business district -- whether you are entering, driving or exiting your vehicle. Here are some preventive guidelines from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to help protect you against carjackers:

When approaching your car:

  • Keep your car locked at all times, whether you are in it or not.
  • Carry a small flashlight to check dark areas.
  • Don't dawdle. Move confidently and quickly.
  • Have your keys in your hand.
  • Check to make sure no one is hiding in or under your car.
  • Be aware of occupied cars nearby.
  • If someone is loitering around your car when you approach it, keep walking, then wait until they leave before returning.

When parking your car:

  • Drive into your garage front first so the headlights illuminate the total area.
  • Park in a well-lighted area at night.

While driving:

  • Be alert to what is going on around you at all times. Daydreaming or a moment's distraction can put you in jeopardy.
  • Plan your route.
  • Try not to travel alone.
  • Avoid trouble spots.
  • Keep your doors locked and your windows closed.
  • Allow enough room between your car and the car in front of you so you can maneuver quickly if you need to step on the gas and get away.
  • Avoid the curb side line whenever possible. Carjackers can break a window, unlock the door and be inside within seconds.
  • Avoid idling your car in neutral. You might have to move quickly.
  • Keep your wallet or purse out of view while you are driving.
  • Be careful at stoplights and on interstate ramps. Carjackers often bump into the back of a car in order to get the driver to pull over.
  • If you are bumped from behind and it seems suspicious, motion to the driver to follow you. Proceed at a slow, but steady pace to the nearest gas station, police station or well-lit, populated area.
  • If you're going home and you think someone is following you, drive around the block.

When getting out of your vehicle:

  • If you suspect something is wrong, don't get out.
  • Be aware of your surroundings before you exit your vehicle.
  • Leave your doors locked until you have observed your surroundings and are ready to exit your vehicle.
  • At home, make sure the garage door is down before exiting.

If someone tries to take your car:

  • Don't panic. Avoid confrontation.
  • If your windows are up, your car is locked and you can maneuver out of the way, hit your horn and step on the gas.
  • If you're confronted while getting into your car, cooperate and move quickly away from your car.
  • If the carjacker has a weapon, give up your car immediately. Do not resist. You could be injured -- or worse. Your life is more important than your car.
  • Don't reach for your purse or anything else in the car. The carjacker may think you are reaching for a gun and shoot you.
  • Take careful note of the carjackers' physical characteristics and direction of travel.
  • Get to a phone and dial 911 immediately.

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