QUEZON CITY—After a trail of carjacking incidents, the Philippine National Police posted online tips on how to avoid being victimized.
According to the PNP, carjacking or carnapping is the act of stealing a car by force. It is a crime of opportunity wherein a thief or criminal syndicates searches for vulnerable prey. Luxury cars provide quick cash for drug use and even fund criminal activities.
However, for some young people, stealing cars is a thrilling experience, a status symbol or may be a rite of passage to a group. Now, more people especially young ones commit more violent crimes than in the past.
Although carjacking can occur anytime, a sizeable share takes place during the late night hours or early morning. The PNP also added that carjacking is not just a problem in big cities – it can also happen inside villages and even in rural areas.
What do carjackers look for? Carjackers first look for prospective victims especially along intersections controlled by stop lights or signs; garages and parking lots for mass transit; shopping malls and grocery stores; self-serve gas stations and car washes; automated teller machines; residential driveways and streets as people get into and out of cars; and highway exit and entry ramps, or any place where drivers slow down or stop.
The PNP said one of the most common methods used by carjackers is the “Bump and Rob.” Carjacker bumps the victim’s vehicle from behind in traffic.
The victim normally gets out to check the damage and subsequently exchange information. Either the driver or one of the passengers jumps in your car and drives off.
To prevent being victimized, take notice of the following:
If you’re bumped by another car, look around before you get out.
Make sure there are other cars around, check out the car that rear-ended you and who’s in it. If the situation makes you uneasy, memorize or jot down the car’s tag number and description; signal the other car to follow you. Drive to the nearest police station or to a busy, well-lighted area.
If you do get out of the car, take your keys (and purse or wallet if you have one) with you and stay alert.
Reduce your risk:
- Walk with purpose and stay alert.
- Approach your car with the key in hand. Look around and inside the car before getting in.
- Be wary of people asking for directions or handing out fliers.
- Trust your instincts – if something makes you feel uneasy, get into the car quickly, lock the doors, and drive away.
While on the road:
- Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up (at least part-way, if it’s hot and you don’t have air conditioning), no matter how short the distance or how safe the neighborhood.
- When you’re coming to a stop, leave enough room to maneuver around other cars, especially if you sense trouble and need to get away.
- Drive in the center lane to make it harder for would-be carjackers to approach the car.
- Avoid driving alone. Go with someone whenever possible, especially at night.
- Don’t stop to assist a stranger whose car is broken down. Help instead by driving to the nearest phone and calling police to help.
Before getting out of your vehicle:
- 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 if the car is locked.
- Put them in the trunk or out of sight.
- Try to park in a garage with an attendant. Leave only the ignition key, without identification.
- Even if you’re rushed, look around before you get out and stay alert to the surroundings.
If you become a victim:
- If the carjacker threatens you with a gun or other weapon, give up your car. Don’t argue. Your life is worth more than a car.
- Get away from the area as quickly as possible.
- Try to remember what the carjacker looked like – sex, race, age, hair, eye color, special features, and clothes.
- Report the crime immediately to the police.
- Work with Barangay or Community Watch groups, law enforcers, automobile clubs, and other concerned groups to get the word out about carjacking prevention. Try a special flier, a community forum, and posters.
- Make sure that driver education classes talk to teens about preventing carjacking and other auto theft.
- Call the radio station and ask the manager to air carjacking prevention tips during airing hours.
- Ask your insurance agent or company to put carjacking and other auto theft prevention information in notices and bills.
- Enlist parking lot owners, shopping mall security, and transit authorities and distribute educational materials with carjacking prevention tips.
- Place carjacking prevention fliers or brochures in the waiting rooms of dealer service departments, auto repair shops and gas stations.
- Ask your Motor Vehicle Sellers to display carjacking and auto theft prevention advice – posters, handouts, etc.- in its offices and distribute prevention tips in all mailings or in their official websites.
Taking precautionary measures also minimizes the chance of becoming a car theft victim. Here are some additional tips to avoid being the victim of car thieves:
- Never leave your car unlocked, or running, even to dash into a business shop for just a second.
- Never leave keys in the car or ignition, inside a locked garage, or in hide-a-key boxes.
- Always roll up your windows and lock the car, even if it is parked in front of your home.
- Never leave valuables in plain view, even if your car is locked. Put them in the trunk out-of-sight.
- Always park in high-traffic, well-lighted areas, when possible.
- Install a mechanical device that locks the steering wheel, column, or brakes.
- Investigate the purchase of a vehicle theft tracking/security system, especially if you own one of the frequently stolen vehicles.
- Never leave personal identification documents, vehicle ownership title, or credit cards in your vehicle.
- If you must leave your key with a valet, attendant, or mechanic, leave only the ignition key. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable firm.
In high theft areas the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) should be etched on windows, doors, fenders and trunk lid. This makes it difficult for a thief to market your stolen car parts.
Copy your license plate and vehicle information (VIN) numbers on a card and keep them with you. If your vehicle is stolen, the police will need this information to take a report.
Many vehicles today come with some type of security system from the factory. Normally there are upgraded systems available if you ask. The best choices are systems that shut off the fuel supply so that a car can’t be started or driven.
If your vehicle is stolen, report it to the police immediately.