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How to Avoid or Survive a Carjacking

The brutal and tragic carjacking in the parking garage of The Mall at Short Hills has heightened public concerns about the risk of being confronted by criminals willing to use violent means to steal vehicles.

Carjacking Campaign
Carjacking Campaign (The United States Attorneys Office – District of New Jersey)

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has posted a detailed guide on its website with advice on how to survive a carjacking, including some surprising information about the likely locations of such confrontations. In addition to the obvious risk of being confronted by carjackers in “high crime areas,” the following places are also listed:

  • Lesser traveled roads;
  • Intersections where you just stop;
  • Isolated areas in parking lots;
  • Residential driveways and gates;
  • Traffic jams or congested areas;

Among the safety practices recommended are these:

  • Approach your car with the key in hand.
  • Look around and inside the car before getting in.
  • Park in well-lighted areas, near sidewalks or walkways.
  •  Avoid parking near dumpsters, woods, large vans or trucks, or anything else that limits your visibility.
  • Never leave valuables in plain view, even when the car is locked. Put them out of sight in the trunk.
  • Keep doors locked and windows rolled up, no matter how short the distance or how safe the area.
  • Look around, especially at places where you slow down or stop, such as garages and parking lots, intersections, self-service gas stations, and car washes, highway entry and exit ramps, and ATMs.
  • Don’t stop to assist a stranger whose vehicle appears to have broken down. Help instead by driving to the nearest phone and calling police for help.

Above all, authorities advise anyone confronted and threatened by carjackers to head the following guidance: “Give up your car. Don’t argue. Your life is worth more than a car.”


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