Get a Jump on Carjackers
Carjacking - stealing a car by force - has captured headlines across the country.
Statistically your chances of being a carjacking victim are very slim, and prevention
actions can reduce the risk even more. Even if your changes of being carjacked
are low be ready in case it happens to you. Are you covered by your insurance
company if you were a victim of a carjacking? Insurance coverage to protect
yourself against a carjacking or auto theft is really affordable but you have
to look at the right insurance carriers.
Why is Carjacking a Problem?
No one knows for certain, but some explanations include:
- It's 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 rite of passage, a status symbol,
or just a thrill.
- Cars, especially luxury ones, provide quick cash for drug users and other
- Sophisticated alarms and improved locking devices make it harder for thieves
to steal unoccupied cars.
- It's 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.
Most local and state criminal codes don't define "carjacking." It's
reported as either auto theft or armed robbery. This means that no solid statistics
exist on time, place, and victims. Connecticut General Statutes classifies "carjacking"
as a Robbery Involving an Occupied Motor Vehicle. An unclassified Felony, carjacking
in Connecticut carries three years minimum jail time.
Though carjacking can occur anytime, a sizable share appears to take place
during the late night hours.
Carjacking isn't just a problem in large cities - it happens in suburbs, small
towns, and rural areas.
Carjackers look for opportunity. They don't choose victims by sex, race, or
Golden opportunities: what do carjackers look for?
- Intersections controlled by stop lights 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 cars.
- Highway exit and entry ramps, or anyplace else that drivers slow down or
The "Bump and Rob"
It works like this. A car, usually with a driver and at least one passenger,
rear-ends or "bumps" you in traffic. You quickly get out checking
the damage and exchanging information. Either the driver or one of the passengers
jumps in your car and drives off.
If you're bumped by another car, look around before you get out. Make sure
there are other cars around; check out the car that's rear-ended you and who's
in it. If the situation makes you uneasy, memorize or jot down the car's tag
number and description; signal the other car to follow you.
Drive to the nearest police station or to a busy, well-lighted area.
If you do get out of the car, take your keys (and purse or wallet if you have
one) with you and stay alert.
Reduce Your Risk
- Walk with purpose and stay alert.
- Approach your car with the key in hand. Look around and inside the car before
- Be wary of people asking for directions or handing out fliers. Trust your
instincts - if something makes you feel uneasy, get into the car quickly,
lock the doors, and drive away.
- Carry a personnel protection device like pepper spray.
On the Road
- Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up (at least part-way, if it's
hot and you don't have air conditioning), no matter how short the distance
or how safe the neighborhood.
- When you're coming to a stop, leave enough room to maneuver around other
cars, especially if you sense trouble and need to get away.
- Drive in the center lane to make it harder for would-be carjackers to approach
- Avoid driving alone. Go with someone whenever possible, especially at night.
- Don't stop to assist a stranger whose car is broken down. Help instead by
driving to the nearest phone and calling police to help.
- Park in well-lighted areas, near sidewalks or walkways. Avoid parking near
dumpsters, woods, large vans or trucks, or anything else that limits your
- 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.
- Even if you're rushed, look around before you get out and stay alert to
If It Happens to You...
- If the carjacker threatens you with a gun or other weapon, give up your
car. Don't argue. Your life is worth more than a car.
- Get away from the area as quickly as possible.
- Try to remember what the carjacker looked like - sex, race, age, hair and
eye color, special features, clothes.
- Report the crime immediately to the police.
- Work with Neighborhood Watch groups, law enforcement, automobile club, and
other concerned groups to get the word out about carjacking prevention. Try
a special flier, a community forum, and posters.
- Make sure that driver education classes talk to teens about preventing carjacking
and other auto theft.
- Call the local radio station and ask the manager to air carjacking prevention
tips during commuting hours.
- Ask your insurance agent or company to put carjacking and other auto theft
prevention information in notices and bills.
- Enlist parking lot owners, shopping mall security, and transit authorities
to print and distribute educational materials with carjacking prevention tips.
- Place carjacking prevention fliers or brochures in the waiting rooms or
dealer service departments, auto repair shops and gas stations.
- Ask your state's Motor Vehicle Administration to display carjacking and
auto theft prevention advice - posters, handouts, etc. - in its offices and
distribute prevention tips in all mailings.