With carjackings on the rise, safety is key
December 7, 2021
As of Nov. 23, there have been 540 carjackings in Minneapolis, more than five times the number of reported cases in 2019. Prior to 2019, police did not break out carjackings into their own category as they were so rare. As reported by the Star Tribune, there’s no specific pattern to the crimes: there are victims of all ages and there is no correlation among the kinds of cars that are stolen. Although this information can be frightening, there are several ways students can mitigate the risk of being carjacked and steps to take if one is being carjacked in order to keep themselves safe.
According to Lieutenant Barb Lusignan, there are three main categories when one is trying to prevent being carjacked: avoidance, awareness, and action. One way to avoid being carjacked is to “Plan ahead. Avoid traveling alone and avoid taking shortcuts that take you through unfamiliar or poorly lit places” Lusignan said. Planning ahead is one of the best and easiest ways to reduce the risk of being carjacked. But there are also steps that can be taken in the moment in order to avoid carjackings. Avoid parking in poorly lit, secluded areas, walking to or from a car alone, leaving windows open and the car unlocked after parking and leaving valuables in plain sight. Awareness is also key in avoiding carjackings, especially in an age of technology and distractions. Lusignan said, “Be aware of your surroundings and alert to any potential dangers” This can be easily done by putting away one’s phone until in a safe place, like in a locked car or at home. Lastly, Lusignan says there are actions that can be taken by everyone: “approach your car with keys in hand, and be ready to get in quickly and lock the doors” Lusignan said. However, action should not be taken if one is actually being carjacked. Lusignan said, “Don’t resist the carjacker, give them your keys, and do not get in a car with a carjacker” A car and the items that are in it are nowhere near as valuable as a human life.
Detective John Ratajczyk, who has 31 years of experience as both a detective and auto theft prevention specialist, seconds this idea. Ratajczyk said, “give them the car and the keys. Nine out of ten times, carjackers are armed with some kind of weapon, typically it’s a gun. Your life is just so much more valuable than your car, I can’t say that enough.” No matter how much one may want to try and keep their car, it is extremely dangerous and not worth the risk.
Ratajczyk has some helpful advice for students when it comes to preventing carjackings. One of Ratajczyk’s biggest tips is to avoid areas where there have been known carjackings. Although, this is not a definite way to avoid carjackings because they have been known to happen anywhere. Additionally, Ratajczyk said, “Have somebody with you, most victims are victims when they are alone” This is another simple and easy way to prevent carjackings. Another tip from Ratajczyk that is not often thought of is for owners of smaller vehicles to avoid parking next to a large truck or a van, as it gives a place for people to hide if they are planning on stealing the car.
Ratajczyk’s biggest recommendation is that people not be afraid to trust their gut. “If you’re coming out of a store and something doesn’t feel right, go back. If there’s a security officer, just go back inside and let them know what’s going on” said Ratajczyk. It’s much better to trust one’s gut and be wrong than to be in the unfortunate situation of being carjacked.