Cops Court and Coffee will be breaking down various laws, safety issues, and many more topics in lay-mans terms.

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Although I have never personally had to deal with a carjacking victim, a few of my fellow officers have. Regrettably, there are many unsuspecting drivers every year who experience the frightening and sometimes deadly occurrence of carjacking. This violating crime involves the theft of a car while a person is still in the vehicle. The carjacker will usually have some type of weapon to threaten and force the driver out of the car.

Carjacking is an offense that can take place at any time, any location, and by any person or group. The first step towards prevention is to get familiar with the most important threats of carjacking. Usually, intersections during nighttime traffic and parking lots are the most frequent places where carjacking takes place. Luxury cars and SUVs are some of the most popular targets for carjackers. These vehicles receive a higher value when these vehicles are sold or sent to a "chop shop" for parts. However, any driver of any car has the possibility to become carjacked, as some criminals are simply looking for a night out on the town.

But there are some things that you can do to help prevent such an occurrence from happening.

  • It is important to remember that carjackers thrive on surprising their victims and taking advantage of those who are not attentive and alert at all times. There are countless victims who report that they were unaware of the carjacker's presence until they appeared at their car window or door. In order to prevent carjacking of your vehicle, it is suggested to exercise a high level of common sense.
  • When, where, and how you park is an important part of preventing a carjacking. You should try and park in a well lit location when planning on leaving a location after dark. This practice ultimately increases the level of awareness for a driver. Additionally, isolated parking spaces and spots situated close to a wall, tall bushes, or trees should be avoided. It is better for women who drive alone to park in an attended garage or to use valet services.
  • Before walking into a car garage or parking lot, assess your surroundings and pay attention to people sitting in their vehicles. If a stranger approaches you, change directions right away and go towards a busy area.
  • When approaching your vehicle, it is suggested to glance under, around, and inside of the car. If you need to load packages into your car, make sure not to turn your back. When it is safe, open the door, enter quickly, and lock the doors. Lingering in a parking lot only places you in more danger for being a target for carjackers, so immediately start your car and drive away.
  • When driving in the city, keep the doors locked and the windows rolled up. If you must stop in traffic, make sure to leave room to maneuver your vehicle and escape if a threat should arise.
  • If you ever are faced with a carjacker and you cannot safely get away, never fall into the trap of becoming a kidnapping victim. It is suggested to drop your car keys, followed by running and screaming for help.
Some people equip their vehicle with self-defense weapons, such as personal alarms, stun guns, and pepper spray to increase their level of safety while driving. Self-defense items should be used to protect your well-being and not defend your car. If you are ever approached by a carjacker, it is recommended to never resist the surrender of your vehicle. When carjackers demand your keys or money, you should comply without resistance. In the end, it all comes down to what is more important to you.

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