I think my mom raised me to be slightly paranoid. When I was five, there was a story going around our neighborhood about a peeping tom. For two weeks I slept on the floor in her room, and all of the curtains in the house were pinned shut. We had to be in before dark and weren’t allowed to play where we normally played.
It was especially frightening to me, not just because I was five, but because we lived in such a rural area that crime and odd behaviors were never mentioned. That was simply because there was no crime and the freaks stayed out of sight.
I don’t remember who the guy was or what happened to him, but I do know my mother abruptly opened the curtains and sent me to the babysitter after dark once he was caught. All was right in my little world again, or so I thought. Later I learned he was caught while trying to steal a woman’s car, with her in it.
That event actually opened my eyes to the reality of the world. There are people out there who want to hurt you, and some who just want to take your stuff. One thing I constantly worry about is car jacking. I worry about this more than I worry about my house catching fire or being in a car accident.
Think about where you live. Do you live in a high crime area? If you do, your chances of car jacking are remarkably high. This is also true if you driver through high crime areas going to and from work. Car jacking happens most frequently at night though, so work may not be an issue.
Here are some simply exercises to help prevent being the victim of a car jacking.
– Keep your car locked. Always. If you get out of the car for even a moment, lock your doors. It only takes a moment for someone to jump into your car and take off, with or without you.
– Keep them locked while driving. Car jacking has been known to happen when a running car has stopped at a stop sign or light in a desolate or remote area. If your door is locked, they may move on.
– If any stranger is approaching you while you are in or near your car, be aware. Get in and lock the door as soon as you can. If they try to open your door, honk your horn repeatedly to draw attention. This should scare them away.
– If your route takes you through a high crime area, you can avoid a car jacking just by choosing an alternative route.
– Carry pepper spray with you at all times if you are going into an area you are not sure of, or have never been in before.
– If you have car trouble and someone offers help, roll your window down a fraction of an inch and tell him or her help is already coming, even if it isn’t. Keep the door locked.
– Some people attempt to take your car by bumping you on the highway. Once you pull over to exchange insurance information, they will take your car.
– Never, ever leave your child unattended in any car, locked or not.
– When parking in parking garages, park on the bottom floor or near the booth. Make sure the space is well lit and near the elevator. A car jacking is more likely to happen in the more desolate and dark areas of a parking garage.
– If you are at the mall or shopping anywhere after dark, park directly under a light and be aware of your surroundings at all times. If someone is hanging out by your car, go back inside. If they are still there ten minutes later, ask for help.
– Always peek into your backseat before getting in your car, especially if you accidentally left it unlocked.
– If you must give someone your car keys, such as a parking attendant or a mechanic, only give your car key. Remove all other keys, most importantly your house keys, from the key chain.
– Never pick up a hitchhiker. Even the most innocent looking people can be out to hurt you or take your car.
– If you think someone is following you, do not go home or to your destination. Keep driving and call for help.
It only takes a little awareness and a few safe practices to avoid car jacking. No one wants to lose his or her car, but remember your life is more important. If it comes down to your car or your life, hand over the keys.