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Prevent Carjackings  

By Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council
Monday, March 17, 2008; 7:00 pm

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Prevent Carjackings
While Driving
When Leaving
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Carjacking is the theft of a vehicle by force or threat of force, and often with the use of a weapon. 

Carjackers look for the right opportunity. Generally, they look for drivers slowing down, stopping, or getting in or out of their vehicle. That is why carjacking often occurs in parking lots and garages, at stop lights and signs, and by the side of the road. Beware of Bump-and-Rob tactics.

Why Would Anyone Want to Steal My Vehicle?

  • To joy ride or to use it in another crime.

  • To dismantle it for parts.

  • To change numbers and resell it.

  • To ship it out of the country for a very lucrative profit.

Carjackers already have the desire and ability to take your vehicle, all they need is an opportunity!

Generally, thieves prefer to commit their crimes without noise, delay, or being seen. Carjackers are determined to take the car without regard for the occupants.

Prevention Tips When Approaching Your Vehicle

  • Do not dawdle; move quickly and confidently with your keys in your hand.

  • Be aware of the surrounding area, including any occupied cars, and check to make sure no one is hiding in or under your car.

  • Immediately lock the doors, when you get into your vehicle.

Driving In Your Vehicle

  • Drive on well-travelled, well-lighted roads when you can.

  • Keep the doors locked.

  • Check your mirrors often.

  • Leave an escape route when you stop at intersections.

  • Use the center lane. This makes it harder to be approached.

  • Stay alert at all times.

  • Be alert when approaching automated teller machines.

  • If you are approached, do not lower your window or open the door.

  • Be alert for anyone who seems to be watching your car.

  • If you suspect you are being followed, do not go home. Go to a police station or other safe public place.

  • Keep your vehicle in good operating condition to avoid breakdowns.

  • Have your vehicle windows etched with the Vehicle Identification Number.

  • Register your vehicle with the Maryland Watch Your Car program.

  • If you feel threatened, use your car horn or alarm system to signal for help.

Parking Your Vehicle

  • Park as close to your destination as possible to reduce the distance you have to walk.

  • Look for parking spaces in well-lighted areas.

  • Avoid parking near dumpsters, large vans, or trucks that obscure view where carjackers may hide.

  • Roll up your windows before parking.

  • Keep valuables out-of-sight.

Departing Your Vehicle

  • Check the surrounding area before exiting.

  • Remove the keys and take them with you.

  • Lock the vehicle as soon as you exit it.

  • Move quickly away from your vehicle.

Important Warning

If you encounter a carjacker, surrender the car without a fight. This is a serious and dangerous situation—you can replace the car, not your life!

Carjacking is a Serious Crime

The Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council works closely with law enforcement agencies, civic groups, private employers, and individuals in an effort to reduce vehicle theft and related crimes.

The Council offers:

  • Free material
  • Free "Watch Your Car" Program registration
  • Free VIN etching
  • Free lectures

To learn more about vehicle theft in Maryland, call toll free at 1-800-96-THEFT or visit the MVTPC Web site at

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