Updated: Oct 22
This article reviews various carjacking attack scenarios and spans high-speed driving, barricade breaching, escape maneuvers, and threat assessment. We will offer numerous techniques to escape and evade carjacking and other behind the wheel threats.
Types of Threats While in Automobile
Common Techniques Used by Attackers to Carjack, Kidnap, and Robbery
Bump and Run
Transition Point Attack- the victim in stoplights, shopping malls, private driveways, apartment complex parking lots
Illegal Road Block
Pretending to be a distressed driver or person on side of the road
There are no fixed rules for what to do during the crime of carjacking, trust your intuition.
Research has shown that women are chosen as targets more. It's likely women are selected more because they are believed to put up less resistance.
92% of the people carjacked are more likely to be alone. Reduce your driving at late hours. In the US, most carjackings occur between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
In the incidents where people are carjacked with their children in the car, in most cases, the carjackers don't see the small children when they approach the vehicle. If this occurs you should remove your children from the car.
If you are carjacked try to gather as much information about the event as can:
Age, race, height, and weight
Hair color and style, beard, mustache
Identifying features of the attacker like acne, scars, glasses, mental state, etc.
A complete description of their clothing
Last known route of travel
Vehicle information and distinguishing markings
Develop and Practice Behind The Wheel Situational Awareness Skills
Good situational awareness skills can improve your odds of survival. Situational awareness is not about living in a state of paranoia. It's about collecting data from your environment, reviewing probabilities while being calm and attentive.
Situational awareness is not about living in a state of paranoia. It's about collecting data from your environment, reviewing probabilities while being calm and attentive.
Good habits to put you in a better situation. Here are some rules to drive by;
Raise your awareness level.
Stay off the phone and radio.
Keep your hand on the shifter when stopping.
When stopping leave the car running and in gear.
Enter and exit the car quickly know where you are going to.
When entering your car have the keys ready so you can enter quickly.
Before entering the vehicle, look into the rear seat for possible threats.
When leaving the vehicle, look around you before turning off the ignition or taking it out of gear.
Always keep your car doors and windows locked. Attackers often enter through unlocked windows and doors.
Look for anomalies in your environment.
Have a plan for if something goes wrong.
If you have to travel thru a dangerous part of town bring someone as it dramatically decreases the chance of attacks.
Become a Hard Target For Carjackers
Your intent is to make it as hard as possible for attackers to carjack you. Good self-awareness skills will reveal to you how you look to potential threats so you can make yourself a harder target. Criminals are lazy and want an easy target. They do not want to get in a protracted fight.
Stay alert at red lights. Look around you - especially to the sides and rear. Be aware of anyone approaching you. When pulling up to a traffic light, be sure to leave enough room between your car and the car in front of you. This will make it possible for you to drive off if someone approaches you.
Avoid parking your vehicle next to large trucks, vans, or other things that will block the view of eyewitnesses. The best parking is in a place with lots of people who can see you.
Enter and exit your vehicle with confidence. Attackers prey on people that look vulnerable or are distracted. Maintain the appearance of being alert and be energetic. Get in and out of your car with purpose.
When approaching your vehicle, scan the area. Prior to entering the vehicle, look inside both the front and back seats for threats.
As soon as you are seated lock the doors, and start driving. Stay off the phone and radio. Follow the same pattern when exiting your car.
Before stopping pull up to your parking space scan the outside area of your car for threats. If it is safe, park and exit the car, and get going to your destination. If you remain in your vehicle looking at your phone, you will give more time to potential threats to attack you.
Drive With Purpose
Drive fast enough so you look like you know where you are going but slow enough so you make evasive maneuvers. The difference between these two speeds is dependent on where your comfort zone is. Practice it beforehand.
Similar to personal situational awareness skills there are unique skills when operating a vehicle. Know where the last exit points on your route are. Have an understanding of what's occurring down the road. Look down the road for;
Obstacles in the road
Counter Carjack Technique: Ilegal Roadblock or barricade breach
The first choice is to stop and reverse direction while maintaining a low profile behind the firewall of the car. If that's not possible try and go around the roadblock, off-road over the sidewalk if possible.
If that's not possible you can try the next option which would be a breach. Most roadblocks are made from vehicles. Your goal should be to choose the lightest vehicle. (car instead of an SUV)
You will want to breach the lightest part of the vehicle which is the trunk area. See Fig 1 below for selecting roadblock soft points.
Aim the edge of your car’s frame with the axle closet to the trunk point of the target vehicle.
When you get to 4-5 feet of the target vehicle soft point, remove your foot from the accelerator and allow the weight of your car to transfer to the front of your car.
At 2 feet from the target vehicle, reapply the accelerator firmly. This rush of energy at the precise moment should raise the front of your car and give you the force to elevate and push the other vehicle out of the way.
After the breach be careful not to overcorrect the steering wheel. Moving through the scene and don't stop for others, call in for help.
Fig 1 How Do you Choose What is the Softest Point of A Vehicle Based Road Block?
In general, the trunk areas of cars and light pickup trucks are good soft targets if the vehicle should be perpendicular to you. If the trunk is pointing toward you it gets riskier.
The hardest thing about breaching is to prevent yourself from not stepping on the brake. We are trained to avoid hitting cars
Counter Carjack Technique: Transitional Spaces Attacks
Transitional locations have a high percentage of attacks. They include areas like;
Pulling into driveways
Gate access points in from of your home or community.
Parking lots- upon entering and exiting the car
Pedestrians crossing street
V1 Transitional space attack ss driver pulls into the driveway. Attackers pull up and behind the target vehicle. Attackers exit the vehicle and threaten the driver at gunpoint. The driver becomes aware and reverses direction and backs into the attack vehicles. The driver continues the reverse direction of high-speed reverse. Watch till the end to see bullet holes in cars sheet metal.
V2 Transitional space attack as the driver pulls behind the attacking car and blocks themself in.
Counter Carjack Technique: Defending the Car pinch defense
The car pinch is a very common carjacking- robbery technique worldwide. The attacking vehicle approaches from the front and blocks the target cars forward path. The target driver in this video turns his car wheel sharply and accelerates quickly crushing the threat in the rear door as they are trying to exit the vehicle.
V3 The high-speed reverse escape is also effective if the path behind the target vehicle clear. Review V5 below to see how a high-speed reverse escape is performed.
V4 Below is another type of attack. The threat approaches from behind and turns down in front of the target. The target driver performs a high-speed reverse escape and K turn once far enough.
V5 Combination of a Road Block with Car Pinch
When approaching a stop sign crosswalk or traffic light in your car make sure you leave enough space between you and the car in front of you so you can see their rear tires. If your car is bumper to bumper with theirs you have effectively barricaded yourself in.
Leaving enough space between your car and the vehicle in front will allow you to perform a turn if you notice a threat.
Always have a plan when approaching a transition point. Locate paths for escape either by moving forward or in reverse. If you had to escape a threat, know where you would go.
In a life or death situation, all surfaces become drivable so do not be scared to use sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, or run over a stop sign.
Counter Carjack Technique: High-Speed Reverse Escape
Maintain a hand position on Transmission Shifter so you can quickly put it into reverse. While at a stop, check all directions for pedestrians and on cars and traffic.
Quickly shift from drive into reverse and accelerate past 45 feet (3-4 car lengths) from the starting point and then perform a "J" or "K" turn.
Practice this technique until you do not have to take your eyes off the road to see what gear the car is in.
It's critical you practice accelerating in reverse starting from the "D" drive. Get comfortable with performing this technique.
This is a significant way to escape and evade all these types of carjacking
If they have a gun get yourself into the safer range of 45 feet (3-4 car lengths). Accuracy of firearms falls off drastically at 45 feet (3-4 car lengths) and beyond. Studies have shown most people can hit a target at that range.
Try and take a defensive low position behind the car's firewall / engine block as your drive
V6 Escape from an illegal roadblock
Bump and Run Carjack-Robbery
Criminals use the bump and run techniques to carjack or rob people The attacker will deliberately bump their car into the victim’s car in the front or rear.
The victim gets out to exchange insurance information and look at the damage. The attacker and or accomplice intimidates the victim and robs them and their car.
Counter Carjack Technique: Stop in public areas or call the police while driving.
If you get into an accident, pull your car into an area with people around and that is well lit. Keep driving with your flashers on until you find a good public area.
The flashers are so they know you will be stopping. If you concerned that the driver of the car is a potential threat, call law enforcement, and remain in your vehicle with doors secured and windows sealed until law enforcement arrives.
Pinched In the Front and Rear
If you are pinched in front and back you can make the decision to ram the opponent's vehicle.
Perform Threat Assessment Route Survey
Route surveys can give you a baseline for situational awareness. They allow you to anticipate how someone will attack you. It is a complex what-if game that offers you the opportunity to remove potential trouble areas along the route. Avoid the high threat areas of the route.
Stillness is Death
Speed and movement give you many defenses. It makes it harder for the attackers to use weapons as well as access to you and your vehicle. Never sacrifice your mobility.
Chose Not To Be a Victim of Carjacking or Roadside Robbery
It can not be overstated how important situation skills are for these types of attacks. Our first priority should be escaped and evade. As mentioned above, these types of attacks are crimes of opportunity.
Criminals will carry them out if they think they’re more likely to get away with it. It is true that situational awareness has a direct correlation with the likelihood of the attack being committed and whether or not it will succeed. Don’t give attackers the opportunity.
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