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How to Avoid Being Carjacked

tips and tricks to avoid a carjacking

Thanks to law enforcement efforts, along with the creation of specific antitheft programs, technology, and insurance company-supported organizations, car theft has trended downward over the past two decades. It is easier then ever to avoid being carjacked.

However, this doesn’t mean that carjacking still does not happen. Last year, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, there were an estimated 721,885 thefts of motor vehicles nationwide in 2019. California is hit the hardest by this statistic, including 10 of 20 cities ranking in the top 20, with Bakersfield ranking at the top. Not all cars are created equal, either, and you might be surprised at the list.

According to Insurify Insights, the top 10 most stolen cars in America are:

  1. Honda Civic – Number of Thefts: 38,426
  2. Honda Accord – Number of Thefts: 36,815
  3. Ford Pickup (Full-size) – Number of Thefts: 36,355
  4. Chevrolet Pickup (Full-size) – Number of Thefts: 31,566
  5. Toyota Camry – Number of Thefts: 16,906
  6. Nissan Altima – Number of Thefts: 13,284
  7. Toyota Corolla – Number of Thefts: 12,388
  8. GMC Pickup (Full size) – Number of Thefts: 11,708
  9. Dodge Pickup (full size) – Number of Thefts: 11,226
  10. Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee – Number of Thefts: 9,818

Even if you don’t live in one of these cities, or don’t drive one of these cars, you should still be educated on carjacking and how to avoid it. While rare, it still serves you to have a plan on how to avoid being carjacked, and what you should do if you can’t.

Understanding Car Jacking

Carjacking occurs for a number of reasons, however, it is often just a crime of opportunity. Since there are so many cars on the streets at various times of day, potential car thieves check out the situation and choose the most vulnerable automobile and people. In other cases, car theft is directly related to another crime, such as needing a “getaway car” to flee the scene. 

Carjacking is often associated with particular locations, but the truth is, it can happen to anyone, anywhere. As mentioned above, carjacking is a crime of opportunity; Sometimes, it’s simply a case of being in the wrong place, no matter where you are, at the wrong time. 

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that you can’t educate yourself on how to avoid a carjacking, noting:

  • Carjackers generally work at night and in dark areas. Parking lots and intersections with poor lighting are favorite spots.
  • Carjackers typically strike when the person is getting into their vehicle.
  • 92% of carjackings happen when the victim is alone in the car.
  • 90% of carjackings involved the use of a weapon, typically a firearm


Tips to Avoid Being Carjacked

Avoiding the obvious pitfalls that make you vulnerable to carjacking is the first step. 

Below are some additional tips to help you avoid being a victim of carjacking:

Never Leave Your Car Unattended

This may seem like a no-brainer, but leaving your car running is like inviting someone to steal your car. Even if it’s locked, a seasoned thief may find a way to break in within minutes.  

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Especially when you are driving alone, you NEED to pay attention to your surroundings. Yes, this means getting off your phone! Look for things that look out of place around you, and plan in your head what you will do should something arise. You don’t need to be paranoid, but you DO need to be attentive.


Park in Well-Lit Areas

Obviously, a thief will steal a car if they think they can get away with it. They are more likely to get away with it if they think no one is around to witness it. Be sure to park in a place where people can see you. 


Drive with a Purpose

Carjackers may be looking for drivers who appear distracted. Do not look weak or distracted. Have your keys in hand, scan the front and back seat before getting in the car, and be aware. As soon as you get in, lock the doors and get moving! Again, don’t play with your phone or adjust the radio. These rules apply when you get out of the car as well.


Be Wary of Fender Benders

One common strategy of carjackers is to bump into your car from behind and act like it was an accident. Most people will get out to check out the damage, and at that moment, the carjacking occurs. If you are actually bumped and there could be damage, drive to a safely lit and populated place such as a grocery store, gas station, or even a local police station, before you pull over. Better safe than sorry!

It’s also a good idea to avoid stopping for alleged stranded strangers on the side of the road. If you have a feeling their situation is legit, it’s perfectly responsible to continue driving and call 911 from your phone reporting the accident.


What to do if you’re carjacked

Even if you’ve taken all of the precautions in the book, a carjacking can still happen. What do you do if you find yourself in this situation?


Don’t Resist

The number one thing to NOT do is resist. Just give them the car. Your car is insured, and it definitely isn’t worth losing your life over. 


Note Physical Characteristics

Here’s where a photographic mind comes in handy. Try to note as many physical characteristics of the carjacker as you can so you can provide a detailed report to the police. 


Avoid Grabbing Your Gun

If you are armed, do not try to get your gun if the carjacker drops in on you. Most states will not allow you to use lethal force when your assailant is no longer a threat, i.e. they are driving away in your vehicle. Additionally, if you are not properly trained in handling your firearm inside a closed environment (like the inside of your car), your weapon could be used against you, or harm any passengers you may have traveling with you.


It’s Up to You to Avoid Being Carjacked

Using common sense, hopefully, you will never be the victim of a carjacking. However, if you do get carjacked, you’ll know how to handle it. The bottom line is this:

Cars are replaceable, and you are not. React accordingly!

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