The number of carjacking incidents reported by the Department of Justice is about 49,000 per year. In some locations in the U.S., the number of Carjackings is becoming an epidemic – it can happen to anyone anywhere and anytime.
In 2020, Chicago carjackings were up a staggering 134%, with 1,416 people being forcibly removed from their vehicles. This trend has continued in 2021, with Minneapolis seeing a 38% increase, Chicago up 44%, Washington, D.C. up 45%, and New York up a whopping 81%.
Listen to the Podcast
It is the International Security Driver Association’s opinion, the number of carjackings may vary from year to year, but it is not a new phenomenon; they have been and always will be a problem to the public and to those who supply Secure Transportation. The threat of carjackings is an issue that protection practitioners may want to bring to the attention of those they protect.
Carjacking may not be a problem in the environment you work in. As a Secure Transportation Provider or Security Driver, it is your responsibility to know if Carjacking is a risk that needs to be mitigated. If you Google Carjackings you will find an abundance of metrics that can help with determining the risk in your environment.
The basic definition of Carjacking is that it involves a confrontation with an offender who threatens the victim with bodily injury with a weapon or through physical force.
The Los Angles Police Department defines it as a robbery of the vehicle. The LAPD goes on to say that carjackings mostly occur in big cities, less so in the suburbs, small towns, and rural areas. The crime usually happens during hours of darkness, but it can happen anytime. As with most crimes, suspects look for an opportunity or ease of attack.
Reduce the Risk
LAPD also has put together a list of recommendations – things to do to reduce the risk of becoming a “carjacking” victim:
- Know the area in which you are traveling. When traveling out of town, plan all trips carefully.
- When possible, drive in the lane nearest the center of the road to distance any would-be pedestrian attacker from your vehicle. Drive on well-lighted, well-traveled streets. Avoid shortcuts that take you on dark, isolated streets.
- When stopped in traffic, leave sufficient space between your vehicle and any vehicle in front of yours. If someone approaches in a threatening manner, the open space will allow you to move forward or leave the location.
- If your vehicle breaks down on the road, attempt to move your vehicle to a safe location. Activate the emergency flashers and stay locked inside until help arrives. If someone stops to offer assistance, request they summon help from an authorized emergency roadside service.
- If the driver of a vehicle with no markings motions you to pull over to the side of the road, do not pull over. Keep driving to the nearest open business or where other people are present. However, comply immediately when directed by an officer in a marked vehicle. Nevertheless, if you sense anything out of the ordinary, you may request to see identification. Law enforcement officials understand this type of concern.
- If you feel you are being followed by another vehicle, do not drive home. Drive to the nearest police or fire station. If one is not nearby, drive to an open business and honk your horn.
- If you are involved in a minor traffic accident and suspect suspicious circumstances, do not check the damage in a remote area or on the freeway. Motion the other driver to follow you to the nearest police or fire station or open business to exchange information.
- If you are attacked, and the suspect has a weapon and demands your valuables or vehicle, comply. Your property can be replaced or recovered later.
- Once you and your attacker are in your vehicle, the “carjacker” has total control. There is no way to predict if the “carjacker” will harm you. If you are outside your vehicle, one tactic you might consider is to fall flat on the ground. The “carjacker” may not want to take the time to force you inside the vehicle.
Some other recommendations
Roll up windows, lock doors and always take your keys or fob with you when you exit the vehicle. Thieves are well-practiced. Even in a locked vehicle, it takes only five to 10 seconds to break a window, grab items, and flee the scene.
Park in well-lit areas and near security personnel or surveillance cameras whenever possible.
Never leave valuables visible on your seat or car floor — this is just an invitation to thieves. Stowaway laptops, cell phones, food, and packages in glove compartments or trunks.
Stay focused and aware of your surroundings as you return to your vehicle. Avoid distractions such as checking your cell phone, and always have your keys in your hand as you approach your vehicle.
The Three Seconds to Safety booklet
As an indication of our previous comment that carjackings are not new, this booklet covers Carjacking, written in the late 1980s by Tony Scotti for a company that was producing shatterproof glass. It covers the necessary ingredients for Carjacking and some things that can be done to mitigate the problem. The title comes from the distance you could put between yourself and the problem in three seconds. When it first came out, it was a big hit with corporations. It became popular with the corporate community and was used as a guide for vehicle safety. Although old, the information is still valid.
Excerpts from Three Seconds to Safety
If Carjacking is a problem you need to address, you may need to change how you think about driving. We’re talking about how you approach driving in today’s world. This approach begins with an understanding that you and your automobile might become a target for an attack at any time and in any place. It ends with an understanding that you do not have to be a victim.
In the same way, you’ve learned to navigate defensively to avoid and prevent accidents; you can also drive with an added awareness of personal security. And you can employ specific techniques and equip your car so that you can be secure on the road.
Detection is the key to preventing a carjacking and possibly the most powerful security measure you have. A while back, the International Security Driver Association adapted an awareness system originally developed for World War II combat pilots. In this system, the conditions of awareness while driving are broken into four color codes: white, yellow, orange, red.
Carjackings and the Color Code Awareness System
Driving in Condition White
We’ve all seen drivers who are not aware of surroundings— talking on their cell phones – folks who drift over the line or don’t move when traffic in front of them moves, they are oblivious to the surroundings —people simply not being aware of what is going on around them. This is Condition White. As a supplier of Secure Transportation, a driver can never be in Condition White. Putting security aside, if you are driving with your family in the car – you cannot be in Condition White. Condition White is a security phrase for distracted driving.
Here, we introduce a level of awareness that affects how we drive if security is a concern.
Driving in Condition Yellow is a state of being aware and alert while driving. The fact is, none of us drive with a full sense of awareness, but we can train ourselves. We can teach ourselves to shift from Condition White to Yellow—and be on security alert—at the instant, the “picture” we’re seeing is other than normal. For the Security Driver, the “picture we see “is security-based.
In this condition, you are ready. Your awareness has shifted from alert to a state of preparedness. A nonsecurity issue could be approaching an intersection that has a history of producing accidents. At this intersection, you notice another car approaching the stop sign. You tend to slow down even though you have the right of way. In a security scenario including Carjacking, you have experienced one of the warning signs previously discussed.
You have moved from Condition Yellow to Orange.
In Condition Red, the situation becomes an event, and you take action. Taking action will vary according to the scenario – vehicle violence or accident.
The simple fact is that a driver cannot jump from Condition White to Condition Red. If you’re not already in Condition Orange—ready to take action—you need time to make that shift and then go into action. The key phrase is that you need time. The less time required, the better the chances of survival.
Join the International Security Driver Association
If you have an interest in going much deeper into these types of topics, I invite you to check out the International Security Driver Association’s website and consider joining the membership to gain access to the encyclopedia of executive protection and secure transportation – the International Security Driver Association’s Knowledge Center.
For more information on all of the member benefits head over to https://isdacenter.org.