Keep Your Wheels: 11 Tips to Avoid a Carjacking - ITS Tactical

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Keep Your Wheels: 11 Tips to Avoid a Carjacking

By Wyatt Knox


Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Each year in the United States, there are over 30,000 carjackings; many of them brutal, violent and over within a few seconds. While it may seem impossible to guard against attacks like these, Contributor Wyatt Knox has offered some simple steps below to keep yourself and your loved ones out of harm’s way.

Keep a Full Tank


Keep your gas tank full and fill your car only at well-lit, busy gas stations that have video surveillance. Always fuel up before traveling through any high-risk areas.

Be Aware of What’s Around You


Be fully aware of what’s going on around you. Most drivers only look out of the windshield, whereas you really need full 360 degree situational awareness. Carjackers know your blind spots and often use them; if they make it to your window, it’s too late.

Stay on the Move


Keep moving if you sense a potential threat. The police will understand you running a light or stop sign to avoid a carjacking and a traffic ticket is always better than an ambulance ride or worse.

Always Leave an Out


If you do need to stop, always leave yourself an out. Park well behind the car in front of you so you have room to maneuver around it if necessary.

When in Doubt, Reverse


When in doubt, reverse out. The quickest way to put distance between yourself and an attacker may often be in reverse. High speed backing can be tricky, as your car will be rear-steer, so find a safe place to practice reverse driving.

Avoid Detroit


Don’t go to Detroit. There are three times more carjackings in Detroit than New York City, which has ten times Detroit’s population. Even Detroit Police Chief James Craig was the victim of an attempted carjacking while in his cruiser.

Beware of Fake Accidents


Carjackings often involve fake accidents and carjackers often even bump into their target car, then take it by force when the driver gets out to exchange information. If you sense this is the case, keep moving and call the accident in to the police explaining your actions.

Don’t Be Fooled by Flashing Headlights


Carjackers have historically flashed their lights or waved drivers down as if something was wrong with their vehicle and taken it by force once the driver stopped. Keep moving and check your car in a known safe place if you think something may really be wrong.

Avoid Being Boxed In


If you sense someone is trying to box you in or bring your vehicle to a stop, again do your best to keep moving. If you are forced to a stop, get into reverse quickly and separate yourself from the threat.

Windows Up, Doors Locked


Keep your doors locked and windows up through high-risk areas.

When All Else Fails, Give the Vehicle Up


If your best efforts fail and a confrontation occurs, it’s historically safer to give up the vehicle than attempt resisting.

For further information and vehicle training courses including Tactical Mobility Training, Personal Security, and Loose Surface Mobility Training, check out the Team O’Neil Rally School!

Editor-in-Chief’s Note: Wyatt was the 2011 2-Wheel Drive US Rally Champion, former lead instructor at the Team O’Neil Rally School and is now racing internationally as well as doing private instruction and coaching.

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  • Paul Marshall

    Stay the fuck out of Detroit !!!!

  • Mark Dravland

    Shoot the asshole trying.

  • Connor Kiel

    Two words: Concealed Carry

  • Chris Robbins

    Tip 1-11, it’s called a gun and shoot the piece of shit.

  • Hc441

    Historically you should NEVER EVER allow yourself to be taken anywhere by the carjacker. Historically, what follows if you are taken along with the car is an even more terrible and violent crime.
    If they want you out and gone, get out.
    If they want you and the car, fight for your life. The article should be updated to reflect this. Never be taken to the scene of the crime.

  • Matt Vieira

    Chewie… punch it chewie

  • Matt Vieira

    Brandon M Tjaden a good reminder

  • backyardsniper

    Odd for ITS to post something like this with no mention of utilizing effective self defense.

  • Daniel Espinoza

    We train different car jacking scenarios in our cars at my Krav Maga studio. Beach cities Krav Maga

  • AJ Sullivan

    11 tips??? How about two tips: #1 – Have a gun at all times. #2 – Shoot the bastard.

  • Danny Secary

    First tip: bullets go though car door unlike on TV. Just shoot through the door, the bullets will do the rest. You don’t need to hold it up to the bad guy

  • Andrew Cushing

    Tip #12. Manual Transmission!

  • Bart Jankowski

    get a bike:P

  • JoeFreedom

    Keep a pistol by your side…Get training and shoot the mfer!

  • JoeFreedom

    Stay out of all liberal cities and your chances drop to almost 0…

  • Robert Huskey

    Get rid of your vehicle?

  • Simon Roe

    Another tip, avoid keyless entry systems on cars.

    Anyone will be able to open the driver door because the system just senses where the key fob is and if the door handle is being touched.

  • Great list! I’d add to that fake accident possibility. If you feel you must leave the scene of a suspicious accident, call the police immediately.

    Cops tend to trust most the one who calls them first. It suggests you have nothing to hide. If you call  quickly and report why you felt you had to leave the scene, they’ll be far less inclined to see it as hit and run. Make their first report of the accident yours.

    Remember, no matter how suspicious an accident looks, and may be a real one. Don’t take a chance on being charged with hit and run. Leave but report and offer to return to the scene when an officer is on hand to ensure your safety.

    For those posters who seem to regard a gun as their best option I’d suggest that they be very careful what they do. Faced with a pedestrian on foot, however threatening, and someone inside a locked, two-ton SUV, a court is likely to ask why you didn’t simply put your foot on the gas and drive away. This isn’t a two-people-on-a-dark-sidewalk confrontation where the bad guy can run after you as fast as you can run away. When all the advantage lies with you, blasting away with a gun isn’t going to look good. A split-second of bad judgment could wreck your life for years after.

    –Michael W. Perry, co-author of Lily’s Ride. It’s a novel about exactly this scenario but under infinitely worse conditions. Set in 1870s North Carolina, a teen girl, riding on horseback to warn her father that he is about to be killed, faces over a hundred Klans on a dark country road. She does shoot (once), but she also has the sense to know that her safety depends primarily on the horse she’s riding, a powerful, thoroughbred stallion. It’s a great book to give a daughter or niece to show what courage means.

  • okcrich

    One important tip is to disable the carjacking option on your power locks. Many cars come from the factory with the carjack option activated on the power locks. Each time you put the car in park all the doors unlock to help carjackers enter the car easily. You can change the lock setting so that the doors still lock automatically when you put the car in drive, but you manually unlock the doors after you have time to check that the area is safe.

    • Virginia

      okcrich I took my car to the dealer and had them change the computer settings so the doors do not unlock when the car is in park!  It’s too risky to stop to make a call or check a map if all the doors unlock as soon as you put the car in park!  I’m also careful to lock all my doors when pumping gas, even though I’m standing right next to the car.

  • GJohn60

    This day and time it’s something we all need to be aware of obviously.

  • Rustybunny

    Years ago, a man with a knife tried to carjack me in El Paso TX, where that was just becoming a popular participation sport for the scofflaw set. I had a large, blue steel, shiny firearm in hand. He beat feet with amazing speed. All’s well that ends well.

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