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Family Safety: Carjacking & Vehicle Safety


Thousands of unsuspecting motorists are car jacked each year. Carjacking is a violent form of motor vehicle theft. It is a serious threat to one’s personal safety because the perpetrator uses force to steal the vehicle. Sometimes the vehicle occupants are kidnapped during a carjacking. The worst case scenario occurs when victims are transported to a secondary crime scene, which is usually more dangerous than the original confrontation.

Many people mistakenly assume that carjacking crimes occur only in blighted areas. Carjackings can and do occur in all types of communities of varying socio-economic status. On July 19th, a couple was carjacked at gunpoint on Watchung Avenue in Chatham. And in May, The Cranford Patch reported on a carjacking that took place on Raritan Road in Cranford where the victim was threatened at knifepoint.

The recommended approach to remaining safe while driving is to remain cautious, use common sense, and educate yourself on techniques used by carjackers and what to do in a threatening situation. In any dangerous situation, you are going to fall into one of two categories: you will either have absolutely no idea what to do in order to protect yourself and your loved ones, or you will have some idea of what to do. Obviously, you want to have a good idea of what actions to take.

In order to form a plan of action, we must first understand some facts about carjacking crimes. According to a 9 year study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a weapon was used in nearly three-quarters (74%) of carjacking victimizations. Guns and knives were the most popular weapons chosen by thieves. Nearly one-third (32%) of victims of completed carjackings were injured.

A majority (68%) of carjacking incidents occurred at night (6 p.m. – 6 a.m.). 44% of carjacking incidents occurred in an open area, such as on the street or near public transportation and 24% occurred in parking lots or garages or near commercial places such as stores, gas stations, restaurants/bars, etc.

Some of the most common techniques employed by carjackers include:

1.) The Bump: The attacker bumps the victim’s vehicle from behind. The victim gets out to assess the damage and exchange information. This is the tactic that was used to carjack the victims in Chatham.

2.) Good Samaritan: The attacker(s) stage what appears to be an accident. They may simulate an injury. The victim stops to assist, and the vehicle is taken.

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

4.) The Trap: Carjackers use surveillance to follow the victim home. When the victim pulls into his or her driveway, the attacker pulls up behind and blocks the victim’s car.

Awareness and avoidance are always the first steps in remaining safe, so let’s go over some common sense tips to reduce your risk of being carjacked:

– Drive with your doors locked and windows rolled up. Keep your cell phone within reach.

– When stopped in traffic, look for possible escape routes. Leave enough room between your vehicle and the car in front of you to maneuver easily enough to escape.

– When stopped at a red light, use your rear-view and side mirrors to monitor your surroundings. This makes it less likely for an attacker to surprise you.

– Always keep your cell phone close by and have emergency numbers pre-programmed.

Be wary of panhandlers or people asking for directions and handing out flyers.

– If you are bumped in traffic, be suspicious of the accident. Contact the police immediately.

– Don’t pull over in any isolated area. Get the other drivers attention and motion to him to follow you, and drive to a gas station or busy parking lot before getting out.

– Be cautious of the Good Samaritan who offers to repair your car. It’s okay to get help, just be alert and cautious.

If all else fails and you find yourself confronted by an armed carjacker, do not resist! Give up your keys or money (if demanded) without resistance. Never argue, fight, or chase the carjacker. You can be seriously injured. In a vast majority of carjacking scenarios, the vehicle is the primary target. There is a good chance that the victim might not be harmed. However, if you cannot escape in your vehicle, it is imperative that you get out of the vehicle right away. Remember, non-confrontation is often the best response. The object is not to thwart the criminal, but to survive!

In the wake of a carjacking, get to a safe place and call the police immediately to report the crime and provide detailed information.

*Statistics and tips compiled from various sources including: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Apex Self-Defense, C. McGoey  (Crime Doctor ).

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July 25, 2013 Posted by | Personal Safety | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment