Protect Yourself From Carjackers
The crime of carjacking is on the increase and involves the theft of your automobile, while in your presence, through the use of force or fear. In addition to property loss, serious physical injury can result if a carjacking incident is not handled correctly.
Why is carjacking on the rise?
No one knows for certain, but some explanations include:
- It is a crime of opportunity - a thief searching for the most vulnerable prey. Sometimes it's the first step in another crime.
- For some young people, carjacking may be a right of passage, a status symbol, or just a thrill.
- Cars, especially luxury ones, provide quick cash for drug users and other criminals.
- Sophisticated alarms and improved locking devices make it harder for thieves to steal unoccupied cars.
- It is easy to buy, steal, or barter for guns in this country. And, a pointed gun makes a powerful threat.
- More teens and adults commit crimes of violence than ever before.
- Intense media interest may have created "copycat" carjackers.
Windows of opportunity that carjackers look for
- Intersections controlled by stoplights or signs.
- Garages and parking lots for mass transit, shopping malls, and grocery stores.
- Self-serve gas stations and car washes.
- ATMs (automated teller machines).
- Residential driveways and streets as people get into and out of their cars.
- Highway exit and entry ramps, or any place else that drivers slow down or stop.
Reduce your chances of being carjacked
Plan your route in advance and know something about the area you will be driving through. Some areas are not safe, day or night. Always keep your car well maintained, and with plenty of gas.
Getting into your car
- Walk with purpose and stay alert.
- Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Approach your car with the keys in hand.
- Look around and inside the car before getting in.
- Be cautious of cars parked with the engine running.
Remember: Everyone is a potential victim.
It does not matter what type of car you drive.
On the road
- Check to see if a vehicle appears to be following you.
- Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up, no matter how short the distance or how safe the area.
- Don't make yourself even more attractive as a victim by leaving your purse or other valuables in plain view while you're driving.
- Look around, especially at places where you slow down or stop, such as garages and parking lots, intersections, self-serve gas stations, car washes, highway entry and exit ramps, and ATMs.
- When coming to a stop, leave enough room to maneuver around other cars, especially if you sense trouble and need to get away.
- Avoid driving alone. Travel with someone if possible, especially at night. If you must travel alone, consider carrying a CB radio or cellular phone to summon help in an emergency.
- Don't stop to assist a stranger whose car has broken down; instead, drive to the nearest phone and call the police to help.
- Never, never, never pick up hitchhikers.
Getting out of your car
- Park in well-lit areas, near sidewalks or walkways. Avoid parking near dumpsters, woods, large vans or trucks, or anything else that limits your visibility.
- Never leave valuables in plain view, even if the car is locked. Put them in the trunk or out of sight.
- Try to park in a garage with an attendant. Leave only the ignition key, with no identification.
If it happens to you ...
- If you are approached by a person with a weapon who demands that you turn over your wallet, your purse, or your car keys, comply. Don't argue. The loss of these items is not worth your life.
- Get away from the area as quickly as possible.
- Try to remember what the carjacker looked like. Try to remember sex, race, age, hair and eye color, special features, and clothes.
- Report the crime immediately to the police.
Keep the following information in a safe place at home and carry a copy with you:
The Fullerton Police Department