What is car-jacking?
Car-jackers have frightening, brazen, and alarming new tricks to steal vehicles in increasing numbers and leave their victims terrified at the side of the road, incident specialists AX confirmed. In fact, the number of vehicle thefts hit a 10 year high in the year to March 2018 in the UK. Car-jackers played their part.
But how does such crime work? The criminal’s objective is to steal the car while you – and therefore its key – are nearby. This is easier and less destructive than breaking a window with a crowbar, for example. The vehicle can then either be sold complete and undamaged, stripped for parts, or used to commit additional crimes.
On this basis, the thief has to get you out the car and the traditional means is violence and intimidation. However, the new tricks separate you with less physical effort. The criminal, for example, leaves a fake injured animal in the road. You therefore get out to investigate then your vehicle is stolen. Alternatively:
- Thief leaves a note on the windscreen that you get out to remove
- Criminal puts an obstruction in your path such as a wheely bin
How to avoid car-jackers
Neil Thomas, Director of Investigative Services at AX and former Detective Inspector at West Midlands Police, said: ‘In my experience, criminals are often unimaginative and sometimes the tactics go no further than simply dragging people out their cars. However, as vehicle thefts rise we have noticed new methods that are much sneakier’. He therefore revealed how to minimise the risk.
- Remain vigilant and trust your instincts. Be aware of your surroundings as you drive, park and return to your vehicle. Trust your instincts, too. Most people have a feeling something is wrong prior to being attacked, Mr Thomas claimed.
- Check your car as you approach. The thief might knock a mirror out of place to make you to stop, get out, and reposition it.
- Never unlock your car from a distance. Why? Because unlocking via the key fob makes the indicators flash. The criminal then knows your car is open and that its key is in close proximity.
- Lock doors manually and immediately. If your vehicle is modern, it might automatically lock its doors once you reach five miles per hour, for example. Clearly, therefore, you are at greater risk after you get in but before you start to move.
- Make a fuss if threatened. The criminal does not want the theft to be witnessed, filmed, or interrupted so make a fuss to attract attention. Sound your horn, for instance. Call the police too.
Mr Thomas had a final word of warning. ‘If you are threatened with violence give up the car’, he argued. ‘Your life is more valuable.’