Carjackings And How To Protect Yourself
West Grand Neighborhood Organization
By Esteban Moreno, ATPA VIN Technician
Carjacking is a term derived from hijacking. When it was first recognized and titled as a crime was in the 1980's. It's been around for years before that when semi trailers were taken from the truck drivers in a hijacking method. The term came after unprovoked violent attacks began when taking occupied vehicles from the drivers. Stealing vehicles the traditional way was now more difficult due to the upgrades in factory installed anti theft devices.
Picture yourself coming home from work and it's late at night. As you pull up to a stop sign a unknown male approaches the drivers door opens it and points a gun at you saying give me your wallet or purse. You reluctantly give your item to the robber and he begins to get more aggressive saying he will kill you if you don't get out. As you fumble to get out he grabs you and drags you out throwing you to the street and again says he will kill you if you say anything or call the police. He tells you to run or stay face down on the ground and speeds away in your car. You have just been carjacked.
Our common reaction to someone demanding our wallet, purse, jewelry and car are to say “No!” Statistics and studies have shown that over 80% of victims of carjackings who don't cooperate with the thief are severely injured or killed. They also show that 93% of carjackers are male and occurred in cities and suburbs. A weapon was used in 84% of the carjackings, and there were approximately 15 murders per year related to carjackings. Almost 63% of carjackings occurred within 5 miles from home.
Methods to prevent carjackings are fairly simple. Should you be carjacked cooperate with demands for money, jewelry and the vehicle. It's just property and can be replaced. Under no circumstances go with the carjacker. If your child or children are with you stall and plead for time to get them out. Most time it takes to long and they will flee. Never try and disarm or follow the thief. Get to a safe place and call the police. Be as descriptive as possible on what you car looks like. They will need the color, year, make, body style and registration. Then describe any distinguishing features. Then you will describe the suspect by race, approximate age, height, weight, what they were wearing and if they were armed and with what.
There are many simple ways to avoid becoming a victim of carjacking. You want to stay in well lighted areas, avoid areas your not acquainted with, don't sit at a corner stopped and on your phone. Be vigil and look in all areas when you stop. If at a traffic light check your mirrors and always keep your doors locked and windows up enough that someone can't reach in. If possible let someone know prior to leaving where you are going and what route you will be taking. If you don't have OnStar or other factory GPS purchase an after market one. They are fairly inexpensive and can use phone apps and don't require a police report to track. Above all things stay safe and get home alive!
If you have any information regarding a carjacking or car theft consider calling H.E.A.T. (Help Eliminate Auto Theft). You can call them at 1-800-242-HEAT or go to www.miheat.org. They have rewards up to $10,000.00 that lead to an arrest and prosecution of car theft and chop shop operators. While I was a an Auto Theft Detective at GRPD, I personally assisted in obtaining two $10,000.00 rewards. The report stays confidential. The only way to stop car theft crimes is by reporting it.
For any further questions regarding vehicle theft prevention call West Grand Neighborhood Organization at 616-451-0150 or e-mail the West Grand Neighborhood Organization ATPA VIN Technicians at ATPA@westgrand.org
Another great way to protect your vehicle from Auto Theft is getting your car VIN Etched. Appointments for VIN Etching can be made for weekdays between 8:30 AM-10 AM FREE by going to the following link:
Funds for this program are provided by the Michigan Auto Theft Prevention Authority.