Written by Haje Jan Kamps ▼

Carjacking more common, experts fear

Carjacking more common, experts fear

As alarm systems and immobilisers are becoming more sophisticated, stealing a car is more difficult than ever. Now, car safety experts fear that criminals may take to carjacking instead.

The act of carjacking - stealing a car by removing the driver from the drivers seat - has been part of life in many parts of the world, often at gunpoint. It is not a new phenomenon by any means - the first incident of this particular crime-flavour was reported in France in 1912

The problems are particularly prevalent in South America and South Africa, but the problem is also growing in significance in the US: There are just shy of 50,000 car hijacking attempts annually.

The danger of hijacking

The attempt of stealing a car where the driver is still in control of the vehicle is hazardous both to the driver and to the criminal: Often, the driver will be in a state of shock, and might attempt to run into, or get away from the offender.

The criminals know this, and there have been many reports of carjackers acting particularly ruthlessly, and removing the victims from the car either by threats of violence, or actual violence.

In addition, there have been reports of situations where carjackers will remove the driver from the drivers’ seat, and then drive off with passengers - such as children strapped in car seats - still in the car.

How to prevent carjacking

In South Africa, where car-jacking is particularly rampant, some drivers have taken extreme measures to prevent being forcably removed from their cars, including fitting flame-throwers to the car, or developing a habit of not stopping at red lights.

In the UK, the situation is not quite as dire, but there are a few simple precations that are worth taking, in order to stay extra safe when operating a car:

  • Try to select safe times and locations to travel
  • Keep your car properly maintained to avoid breakdowns.
  • Carry a mobile with you, and don’t be afraid to dial 999 in an emergency.
  • Keep your car locked at all times.
  • Don’t leave windows rolled down far enough for people to reach inside.
  • Whenever possible, have someone escort you to your car. As you approach your car, if you see any suspicious persons, turn around and go back.
  • Always check inside your car before you get in.
  • Park in well-lighted areas close to your destination.
  • Avoid parking next to vans or other tall vehicles.
  • Have your keys ready as you approach your car to avoid wasting time while entering. Lock all doors after you enter.
  • If a robber wants your car or other valuables, stay calm, and co-operate.
  • Always remember: your car is less important than your life.