Car owners beware! Carjacking incidents are on the rise in Chicago. Residents of the windy city may be surprised to learn that a whopping 1,362 carjacking incidents occurred in the city in 2020. This is a 105% increase compared to the year before.
So why are such cases occurring during a pandemic? One may be tempted to blame the current conditions, which entails more individuals spending time in self-quarantine and wearing masks in public for this rise in carjackings. With more people remaining indoors for longer periods of time than ever before, cars parked on the street have become sitting ducks for criminals. However, members of the Chicago police have pointed out that such incidents were already increasing even before the pandemic lock-downs went into effect in March 2020.
Some criminologists believe the spike in carjackings may be partially to blame on the higher number of layoffs during the COVID-19 pandemic. This explanation would very well be true, as there has been an uptick of crimes in general during 2020.
How Do Carjackings Occur?
Carjackings are observed most frequently in areas with already high crime rates. However, they can also occur in otherwise “safe” areas if the criminal believes there is an easy opportunity to strike.
While many modern car theft cases can be described as situations in which criminals break into parked vehicles using special relay boxes that mimic the signals from key fobs. A large percentage of carjackings occur while the victim is attempting to enter or is already seated in their vehicle.
Carjackers often accost their victims using weapons, and attempt to take their vehicles by force. This leaves the victims feeling helpless and in shock as the criminal ejects them from their vehicle.
What Should You Do During a Carjacking?
Here are some things to keep in mind during a carjacking attempt.
Give Up Your Vehicle
If you find yourself being held by a carjacker, it is best to just give them your vehicle. Most carjackers are simply interested in taking your car without hurting you, as doing so would lead to additional criminal charges. However, they may be tempted to use force if you do not comply with them.
Get Children or Passengers Out of the Car
If you have any children or passengers in the vehicle with you, your first step should be to get them out. The last thing anyone wants is to lose their vehicle to a criminal with their family or loved ones still seated inside.
Don’t Get Into Your Vehicle with the Carjacker
It is also important to avoid getting into your vehicle with the carjacker. This criminal may be interested in taking you to a second crime scene or to an ATM to extract money from you. For this reason, you should not let them force you into the vehicle with them.
Fighting as a Last Resort
If the situation arises, you may need to improvise by kicking the carjacker or gouging their eyes to prevent them from kidnapping you. If you have a concealed firearm, it may help to brandish it. However, both these options are risky as they may lead to the criminal escalating the situation with violence. In addition to this, carjackers often operate in pairs or small groups. So even if you manage to fight off one carjacker, their partners may be standing by to help them.
What to Do After a Carjacking
Once you manage to escape the situation, your first step should be to inform the police about the crime. You should provide as many details as possible, including:
- The carjacker’s age, race, weight, and height.
- Physical features, such as hair color, beards or mustaches.
- A description of their clothing.
- The location of the crime scene.
- The carjacker’s direction of travel.
- A description of your vehicle along with the number plate information.
Tips to Prevent Your Vehicle From Being Carjacked
Some tips to prevent your vehicle from being carjacked include:
Entering Your Car as Quickly as Possible
If you have parked your car in an open area at night, you should attempt to enter your vehicle as quickly as possible. It may help to keep your keys out as you are walking over to your car.
Checking for Anyone Inside Your Vehicle
Some carjackers enter their victim’s vehicle and wait for them in the backseat. You should check to see if anyone is already inside your vehicle before entering it.
Exercising Caution While Parking
When parking your vehicle, you should look around for any suspicious individuals in the area. You should ensure the coast is clear before turning off your ignition and unlocking the doors.
Being Vigilant at Traffic Lights
When stopping at a traffic light, you should leave an adequate amount of room between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This is to provide you the option of driving away if someone were to approach your vehicle.
Being Careful of Stranded Motorists
Some carjackers pose as stranded motorists on the side of the road. These criminals rely on the good-nature of their victims to enter their vehicle before threatening them with a weapon. For this reason, you should be careful around any stranded motorists, unless you are absolutely certain that they are stranded.
What to Do if You Are Being Charged With Carjacking
Carjacking is a federal crime which carries heavy penalties. If you are charged with carjacking, you could face anywhere between 15 years and life in prison. If you have found yourself in such a situation, it is best to get in touch with a criminal lawyer immediately.
An experienced criminal lawyer can study your case thoroughly and attempt to get your charges reduced or dropped entirely. There is no way to undo this crime. However, with the right person at your side, you may be able to prevent the incident from impacting your future significantly.