Carjacking: Victim or Avoidance


What Is Carjacking?

Carjacking is the crime of stealing a motor vehicle when the vehicle is occupied. Typically, the carjacker is armed, and the driver is forced out of the car with the threat of bodily injury. In other rarer cases, the driver is kidnapped under the assault by a weapon, or made to drive his or her abductor. Women are particularly victimized in this latter method.

The crime is extremely hazardous, threatening the physical safety of the victim. To secure the car, the carjacker may sometimes shoot the victim or physically push/pull the victim out of the driver’s seat to force him or her out of the car.


Where Does Carjacking Happen?

Carjacking can happen anywhere, but is mostly a big city problem like traditional auto theft. Carjacking occurs most often in a busy commercial area where cars are parked and when the owner is entering or exiting the parked vehicle. Carjackers tend to rob lone victims more often, for obvious reasons.

Popular carjacking locations are parking lots, shopping centers, gas stations, car washes, convenience stores, ATMs, hotels, valet parking, fast-food drive-thru, and outside of retail stores. Close proximity to a freeway on-ramp is a desirable escape factor from the carjackers prospective. A risky, but popular location for the carjacker is a roadway intersection with a stoplight. A carjacker will jump out of another vehicle, pull open your unlocked drivers’ door, and force you to get out. The type of carjacking allows for a quick escape but increases their risk of being followed by other drivers armed with cell phones. There have been incidents where well-meaning citizens got into a high-speed chase following carjackers and ended up being victims themselves.

Another scheme used by carjackers is to bump your car from behind to get you to pull over and stop. We have all been trained to always stop after an accident to exchange license and insurance information. What a perfect scenario for a carjacker! The carjacker, and his accomplice, will follow the intended victim to a suitable location with good escape routes and few witnesses. Typically, the drivers of both vehicles pull over, stop, and get out discussing the damage. At this point the carjacker robs you of your vehicle, its’ contents, and drives away. The carjacker’s car gets driven away by the accomplice.

Carjacking of parked vehicles (or the avoidance thereof) relates to the car owners abundance of (or lack of) situational awareness to their surroundings. Carjackers, like street robbers, prefer the element of surprise. Most victims say they never saw the carjacker until they appeared at their car door. To reduce your risk of being carjacked, here are some tips…


Carjacking Avoidance

Always park in well-lit areas

Don’t park near or next to obstructions like walls, etc.,

Choose an attended garage or use valet parking

While walking to your car, maintain situational awareness while alert to suspicious people sitting in cars

Ask for a security escort if you are alone at a shopping center and feel uncomfortable

Watch out for loiterers in the area

Maintain a posture of confidence

If being approached, change direction or go to a busy area

As you approach your car from a distance, look underneath

As you near your car, look around, and inside

Open the door and enter quickly, and lock the doors

Don’t become a target by turning your back while loading packages into the car

Once inside the car, start it and drive away immediately

In the city, always drive with your car doors locked and windows up

When stopped in traffic, leave room ahead to maneuver and escape

When stopping, leave enough room such that you can see the rear wheels of the car in front of you

If you are bumped in traffic, be suspicious of the accident

Be cautious of the Good Samaritan who offers to repair your car or a flat tire. It’s okay to get help, just be alert

Wave to follow, and drive to a gas station or busy place before getting out

If you are ever confronted by an armed carjacker, unless you are trained and armed, the best advice is do not resist. Get out willingly. Your life is worth more than your car

Give up your keys or money if demanded without resistance. Your life is worth more than your keys or money

Don’t argue, fight or chase the robber. You have car insurance, right?

NEVER agree to be kidnapped. Drop the cars keys and run and scream for help

If you are forced to drive, consider crashing your car near a busy intersection to attract attention so bystanders can come to your aid and call the police

Call the police immediately to report the crime and provide detailed information


some of these ideas were sourced from


Appreciate topics of survival, preparedness, risk awareness – or planning for disaster?
Read our current articles on Modern Survival Blog

One Comment

  1. I have, while driving in the city, (twice while at red light) been approached by the driver from behind/side behind, and the man would gesture, vigorously, for me to role down my window. and shout some instructions.

    Knowing I had not been hit, I nodded my head NO. This seemed to enrage the man both times.

    First time, I picked up my cell phone and the man left.

    Second time, the driver’s window was down about an inch, and this was concerning me. Before I picked up my cell phone,
    my very large (130 pound) mostly black dog, which had been laying quietly in the back of my small station wagon,
    leaped across the middle seat, and in between me and the window. Barking vigorously at the man.

    It was, in retrospect, hilarious. From the look on his face, and terror, and the fast run back to his van, pretty sure he had to change his underwear. Suspect he may not do that again.

    I had all doors locked, windows up. Except, for that second time, and it was only an inch, but enough that the man got a good sound bite from my dog.

Comments are closed.