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Preventing Carjackings

Home> Vehicle Security > Preventing Carjackings

Tips to Avoiding and Preventing a Carjacking

Carjacking has become a very common crime in both the United States and overseas.  The majority of carjackings are conducted for the purpose of stealing the vehicle.  Occasionally, a carjacking is conducted as a tactic to kidnap or murder someone.

Steps to Take to Avoid a Carjacking

Stay Away from Dangerous Areas.  Some cities have known high crime areas - stay away from these locations.  Carjackings will take place in parking garages, parking lots, at intersections, in isolated areas, in residential driveways, congested areas, and traffic jams.

Stay Aware and Alert.  Always be aware of your surroundings.  If you detect personnel and a situation that seems not right; start to prepare for how you will avoid that person or get out of that situation.

Doors and Windows.  Lock your car doors and roll up the windows.  The carjacker will look for an easier target - one with doors unlocked and windows down.  If he does try to carjack your vehicle he will lose the element of surprise.

Use Your Mirrors.  When stopped in traffic, at a stop sign, or stoplight use your side and rear-view mirror.

Avenue of Escape.  Always plan for an avenue of escape.  Have a direction to drive should a carjacking attempt begin.

Maintain Distance Between Cars.  When stopped in traffic, at a light, or at a stop sign ensure you maintain some distance between your car and the car in front of you.  You should keep at least one-half car length open between you and the car in front of you.  This will allow you to turn the wheels and move the car.

Cell Phone.  Keep your cell phone handy and have some emergency numbers already pre-punched in.  Should you have an emergency or need to call for help quick you will be ready.  It can also be a deterrent, if during the progress of a carjacking, the carjackers see that you have already called the authorities.

Where Carjackings Take Place

  • High crime areas

  • Intersections in cities where you must come to a full stop

  • Congested areas or traffic jams

  • Parking lots in isolated areas

  • Residential areas in driveways

  • Lesser traveled roads and some rural areas

Methods Employed by Carjackers

"The Fender Bender".  The carjacker will bump your vehicle from behind - another name for this ruse is "The Bump".  This can have the appearance of a minor fender bender.  When you get out of your vehicle to inspect the damage and exchange license and insurance information your vehicle is then stolen.  If bumped from behind pull over only when you reach a safe public place.

"The Ruse".  The vehicle behind the victim flashes its lights or the driver waves to get the victimís attention. The attacker tries to indicate that there is a problem with the victimís car. The victim pulls over and the vehicle is taken.

"The Staged Accident".  The carjackers stage an accident with injuries that  compels you to stop and assist. This ruse is sometimes referred to as "The Good Samaritan".  Once you stop and exit your vehicle it is stolen from you.  It may be safer to report the accident and location on a cell phone to the authorities.

"The Trap".  Carjackers use follow the victim home, to work, or some other location.  When the victim pulls into his or her driveway or parking spot the carjackers pull up behind blocking your escape.  If you have a gated driveway, stop in the road first to ensure the gate opens fully before pulling in.

"The Authorities".  This is when you are either pulled over by a vehicle and occupants who appear to be police, emergency services, or some other authoritative personnel.  You believe you are complying with someone in an official capacity.  Once you have pulled over your vehicle is stolen.  This ploy is less likely in the United States and common in less developed countries.

"The Roadblock".  Although not common in the United States, this is something to watch out for overseas in less developed countries.  A roadblock is set up causing you to stop.  The roadblock may even appear to be "official".  Once you stop, your vehicle is stolen.

What To Do During a Carjacking

Decision Time.  In a matter of seconds you need to make a decision.  Do you escape, confront the carjacker, or comply with his demands?  In the majority of carjacking events the vehicle is the primary target; meaning that you as a victim may not be harmed.  If you cannot make your escape (usually in your vehicle) then you will need to confront the carjacker(s) or comply with the carjacker's demands.  If he is armed or has you in an impossible situation then do not confront him or show aggressiveness; let him have the vehicle.

Escape.  If you are aware of your surroundings, have your doors locked, windows up, have allowed sufficient room to maneuver your vehicle, and have a plan of escape that you can quickly implement; then the conditions may be that you can escape in your vehicle unharmed.

Confront the Carjackers.  This is the less desirable course of action available to you.  Most times the carjackers will have picked the place, time, and circumstances of a carjacking and the event is already underway before you have sufficient time to react, decide or to prevent it from happening.  The carjacker is usually armed with a weapon of some sort.

Comply and Give Up the Vehicle.  It may be best not to confront the carjacker and simply get out of the car as quickly as possibly and let him have it.

A vehicle is not worth losing your life or getting seriously injured over.  If your children are in the car then ensure they get out of the car first before it is being driven away.  Let the carjacker know you have a child in the rear seat.

What To Do After a Carjacking

Report the carjacking immediately.  Have emergency phone numbers already entered into your cell phone so you can dial them immediately.  If you have "Lojak" or some other type vehicle locating and recovery device that uses a GPS then inform that company immediately.  Some cars can be equipped with anti-carjacking devices that wil disable the car after it runs for a few minutes once you activate a device either in the vehicle or on your person.  Continue to be aware of your surroundings and environment to ensure that you are not in harm's way.

Further Information on Preventing A Carjacking

"Carjacking - -  Don't Be a Victim", Bureau of Diplomatic Security, 2002.

"Carjacking Facts". Article by the "Crime Doctor".

How to Prevent a Carjacking.  Florida Attorney General's Office.

Crime Prevention Tips - Carjacking.  Arlington, Virginia Police Dept.

Preventing/Surviving a Carjacking. Citizen Defense Training.

"How to Avoid Being Carjacked" by WikiHow.

Further Information on Preventing Auto Theft

International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI).

How Eliminate Auto Thefts (HEAT). Michigan's auto theft prevention program.

Facts About Carjackings

Hoax Email Messages About Carjackings.  A series of misleading emails are circulating about carjackings and a piece of paper left on the back window to get drivers to leave the safety of their vehicle.  Read more on this by clicking  See also about this false message.


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