12 Tips On Avoiding A Car Jacking.
When I was asked to author an article about protecting one’s self from car jacking, I thought, “It’s common sense.” Then I realized not everyone has twenty plus years of tactical military experience and considers the annual FBI National Uniform Crime Report light reading for a Sunday afternoon. Despite the fact that violent crime across the United Stateshas dropped consistently over the past few years, car jackings are up in some larger urban areas and are spreading to areas that have traditionally been considered “low crime.” There are many people in the “just give it up” school of thought. Personally, I have never attended that school. The way I see it, if a guy is trying to take my car from me at knife point, he is about to get a harsh lesson in bringing a knife to a gun fight. If he had the presence of mind to bring a gun, he’s going to get a lesson in drawing and firing from concealment. Sure, the some car jackers might just be after your car. Maybe they are looking for a quick get away from another crime they have just committed. Or perhaps they may want it to sell to the local “chop shop” so it can be parted out, or shipped out of the country intact. Other times, the person in the car (You or your family!) could be the target. It can be a huge mistake to assume that someone who is trying to get into your car – just wants the car.
Police reports around the country and the world are filled with stories of people who have cooperated with what they believed were car jackers and ended up being taken hostage, raped, killed and even beheaded. Did you know that there has been a 100% increase in kidnappings around the world in the last six years? Or that there are 3,000 “reported” kidnappings in Mexico every year (and only 1 in 10 kidnappings are believed to be reported), which brings the probable number of kidnappings in Mexico every year to about 30,000! Case studies have also shown that a very high percentage of these kidnappings originate from various scenarios that begin with the victim in their vehicle. Is it possible that those tactics could find their way into our neighborhoods? So back to my point. How do you know if the guy brandishing a weapon at the deserted intersection and demanding you open your door is after you or just your car? You don’t! So in light of these little factoids, here are some things you can do to help yourself.
1. Park your car in well lit, highly populated areas. Don’t park all the way at the end of the parking lot where there are fewer lights just because you are afraid of getting a door ding on that fancy new ride. Park where people can see and hear you if you are targeted for a car jacking or any other crime.
2. If you are approaching your car and a large van is parked on the drivers’ side of your car, get in on the passenger side or just go back in the store and wait until it leaves. You don’t want to be yanked into that van while your back is to it and you are fumbling with your keys.
3. Have your keys out (preferably in your weak hand) before you approach your vehicle. Keep your strong hand free to make a quick and hard first strike if necessary. If approached from behind consider a hard elbow to the nose. If approached face to face consider a punch in the throat or a swift kick (and downward scrape of the shins). Either of these may be enough time for you to flee the area, make some distance between you and the attacker or give you enough time to access your concealed weapon or other personal protection equipment and or activate your vehicles alarm or horn if so equipped.
4. Always walk with a purpose with your head up, scan the area. Don’t be afraid to make solid eye contact! Get a clear look at the people around you. Don’t stare so long as to challenge them, but let them know you see them and aren’t afraid to look slightly longer than may be naturally comfortable. Besides if they do still decide to attack at least you will be able to provide law enforcement with a better description. But generally, if a crook sees that you are aware and paying attention to your surroundings and that you have gotten a good look at their face they will most likely wait for the easier target. The easier target could be described as the guy or girl who quickly looks away with their head down, shoulders slumped forward and appears to be preoccupied with that fact that they just realized they need a manicure. To a criminal a person like that screams OPPORTUNITY!
5. If you carry a concealed weapon (which I highly recommend) or other type of personal protection equipment (mace, baton, stun gun, brass knuckles, etc. Whatever is legal in your area) put your hand on or near the weapon and be mentally ready to use it anytime you get that “something just doesn’t feel right” feeling. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard or read victims reports and seen the words “In hind sight, I knew something didn’t feel quite right. But for some reason I just ignored it”. Trust your gut!
6. At intersections, stop far enough behind the car in front of you that you can see that vehicles rear tires touching the pavement. If you can clearly see those tires making contact with the pavement, you likely have enough room to cut your wheel and hit the gas to get out of the situation fast. This is often a very good option. Typically, a criminal is not going to be very likely to shoot at you if you are already pulling away and through the intersection by the time he reacts to your move. And in many cases they know that actually firing the gun, will draw too much attention to themselves anyway. They want you to freeze and capitulate. They don’t expect positive effective resistance tactics.
7. Some car jackers will use the ruse of bumping into you and taking your car when you get out to assess damage and exchange insurance information. If hit in traffic or if something just doesn’t feel right, pull off into a well lit and heavily populated area, or call for law enforcement response and remain in your vehicle with the doors locked until a marked police car arrives.
8. If traveling with a child in the car and you are a victim of a car jacking and you panic and decide to give up your vehicle in the hopes of saving your life and the life of your child. Be certain to state in a loud and clear manner to the car jacker, “Wait, my child is in the car!” You have to remember this guy is focused on getting your car and getting away as quickly as possible, he may not realize you have a child with you! By loudly and clearly telling him that your child is in the car, you may completely avoid the crime, or at least be able to get your child to safety before this low life drives away with your car and your child. Most criminals don’t want to have to deal with the attention missing children can draw from police these days.
9. Don’t be afraid to run that red light or that Stop sign just because you are afraid of getting a ticket. Very few law enforcement officers would likely give you a ticket, if you were truly trying to avoid a potentially dangerous situation and saving yourself from being a crime victim. Besides, if you are getting jacked and you attract the attention of law enforcement, all the better! Paying the fine is certainly better than paying for a new car or being dead… Just be sure to this move doesn’t end in a pile of mangled metal.
10. Drive with the windows up and doors locked. Be suspicious! Pay attention to anyone loitering at intersections, construction zones, broken down cars, detours, vehicle accidents, etc. Be especially weary at night in secluded or unpopulated areas. Remember, trust your gut and be suspicious! Is that guy really just handing out flyers for the local nightclub, or is he really looking to make a quick buck off of your blood sweat and tears?
11. Ladies, keep those handbags off the seat and on the floor out of sight. Store valuables in trunks until you get home. Take a friend with you. Don’t be out riding around alone if you can avoid it.
12. Once in your vehicle and you carry a concealed weapon, make sure loaded and is within hands reach to be able to be used in a seconds notice if necessary. Have you practiced drawing and shooting from a seated position with your seat belt on? Can you even do it? If not practice, if you can’t consider placing the weapon in a stable but accessible location where you can access it quickly. Same goes with other personal protection gear. If your right handed can you reach across your body with your seat belt on and use your stun gun effectively? Practice to find out. Perhaps temporarily (while in transit) placing a stun gun or mace, etc in your door compartment is a better option? You won’t know what works best for you until you try them. Have you ever experienced mace in your eyes? How will you react if the wind is wrong and you get spray back in your face? When using mace, it is typical to get at least some spray back unless the wind just happens to be perfect. Consider these things and practice them, role play scenarios and spend time thinking about how you should react. CMA Legal Note: Obviously check your local concealed carry laws for proper legal transportation requirements before taking any of this advice.
Lastly and most importantly. Don’t limit yourself to this short article about awareness, educate yourself and your children (especially teenagers) about high risk situations. Take a defensive driving course and a self defense course. The confidence they instill alone will go a long ways to making you appear like a less appealing target, let alone all of the knowledge and practical experience they offer. Find out everything you can about avoiding car jackings and being a crime victim in general. This goes for everything in your life, do research, educate yourself and take responsibility for your own safety and security. It is up to you in the end. Remember, the first word in “Self Reliance” is “Self.”