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Protect yourself: Get jump on carjackers

By By DONNIE NUNLEY
APD Assistant Chief of Police
There was an attempted carjacking within Escambia County recently. Being that carjacking is a rare occurrence in this area, I thought that it would be a great opportunity for me to inform you about carjacking.
Carjacking – stealing a car by force – has captured headlines across the country. Statistically, your chances of being a carjacking victim are very slim, and preventive actions can reduce the risk even more.
Why Is Carjacking
On The Rise?
No one knows for certain, but some explanations include:
It's a crime of opportunity – thief searching for the most vulnerable prey. Sometimes, it's the first step in another crime.
For some young people, carjacking may be a rite of passage, a status symbol, or just a thrill.
Cars, especially luxury ones, provide quick cash for drug users and other criminals.
Sophisticated alarms and improved locking devices make it harder for thieves to steal unoccupied cars.
It's easy to buy, steal, or barter for guns in this country, and a pointed gun makes a powerful threat.
More teens and adults commit crimes of violence than ever before.
Intense media interest may have created "copycat" carjackers.
Anywhere, anyone
Though carjacking can occur anytime, a sizable share appear to take place during the late hours. Carjacking isn't just a problem in large cities – it happens in suburbs, small towns, rural areas and even in Escambia County. Carjackers look for opportunity. They don't choose victims by sex, race, or age.
Windows of opportunity that carjackers look for
Intersections controlled by stop lights or signs.
Garages and parking lots, shopping malls, and grocery stores.
Self-service gas stations and car washes.
ATMs (automated teller machines)
Residential driveways and streets, as people get into and out of cars.
Highway exit and entry ramps, or anyplace else where drivers slow down or stop.
Reduce your risks getting
in your vehicle
Walk with purpose and stay alert.
Approach your car with the key in hand. Look around and inside the car before getting in. Looking underneath won't hurt.
Be wary of people asking for directions or handing out flyers. Trust your instincts – if something makes you feel uneasy, get into your car quickly, lock the doors, and drive away.
On the road
Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up (at least part-way, if it's hot and you don't have air-conditioning), no matter how short the distance or how safe the neighborhood.
When you are coming to a stop, leave enough room to maneuver around other cars, especially if you sense trouble and need to get away.
If it happens to you. . .
If the carjacker threatens you with a gun or other weapon, give up your car. Don't argue. Your life is worth more than a car.
Get away from the area as quickly as possible.
Try to remember what the suspect looked like – sex, race, age, hair and eye color, special features, clothing.
Report the crime immediately to the police or sheriff's department.
The "Bump And Rob"
It works like this. A car, usually with a driver and at least one passenger, rear-ends or "bumps" you in traffic.
You quickly get out to check the damage and exchange information. Either the driver or one of the passengers jumps in your car and drives off.
If you are bumped by another car, look around before you get out. Make sure there are other cars around, check out the car that's rear-ended you and who's in it.
If the situation makes you uneasy, memorize or jot down the car's tag number and description; signal the other car to follow you. Drive to the nearest police or sheriff's department or to a busy, well-lighted area. If you get out of the car, take your keys (and purse or wallet if you have one) with you and stay alert.
Remember to never leave your keys in the car or ignition and always lock your car, even if it's in front of your home. Stay alert and stay safe.