6 Tips on How to Prevent or Escape A Carjacking

Image via Shutterstock, an attempted carjacker with a pistol.

Carjackings are a common way for criminals to violently seize your car and purse or wallet (if they happen to be in the car at the time). Tragically, some carjackings end with the victims being beaten, shot, stabbed, or run over by the perpetrators. The criminal may attack you when you are already in the car, getting in the car, or walking up to the vehicle. At any point we generally are not thinking that a criminal is about to strike. So what can we do to prevent such an attack? If attacked, what can we do to escape?


1. Be aware of where your car is.

Watch where you park and drive. Park close to wherever you need to go in a well lit area. Back into the parking space with a wall behind your car, if possible (harder for people to hide behind your car). Avoid high-crime areas (especially if they are known for carjackings).

Always — ALWAYS! — keep at least one car length between your car and the car ahead of you while you are driving. That way you will have room to maneuver and escape if you must. Keep your doors locked and windows up while driving.

2. Scan your surroundings.

When you are returning from shopping, take a quick look at your car as you approach. Is anyone hiding under it or behind it? Look for anything suspicious. Some criminals place a $20 bill under a windshield wiper. You might not notice it until you get in. When you see it and get out to pick it up, the thief uses that split second to jump in your car. If you are at a traffic light, do not zone out and look at your phone. Carjackers attack at traffic stops. Stay alert.

Here is a very good video from ABC News containing much helpful information about preventing a carjacking:

3. Don’t resist (usually).

Thieves usually like to attack while the car is still running. If your door is unlocked, they can quickly run up from both sides of the car, open the doors, push or pull you out, and take off. It is your decision to resist or not. If there is more than one of them, and all they want is the car, I would not resist and give it to them. That is what insurance is for.


4. Fight if your child is in the car.

But what if you are loading your child in the backseat and someone tries to grab you and take your car? Your child’s life is now at stake, and they are not going to take that car without a fight.

This is a tough situation because you are focusing on your child while someone sneaks up on you. Try to look up and glance around every few seconds while fastening the child in. If you are attacked, you MUST turn and fight as viciously as possible! Here is a video that demonstrates how to do this:

While the instructor shows some good techniques in fighting back, I do have a few problems with how she “ends” the fight. She seems to assume that a few good elbows or palm-heel strikes will end the confrontation. They might. Or they might not.

If you have your attacker doubled over in pain — good! Now finish him off! Strike hard with a well-placed hammer fist to the back or side of the neck. Your child’s life is on the line — so finish off the bad guy!  Also, at the end of one scenario she is holding on to a seat belt as an “anchor.” Sorry, but if I am going to fight to defend my child I need both hands, and the only thing I am holding on to is the criminal’s throat.

In addition to this, I highly recommend that adults receive firearms training and legally carry a loaded pistol on their person.  If attacked, drive the attacker back using strikes with hands and feet, elbows and knees.  Once you have some space, draw your pistol from its concealed holster (many ladies wear a “belly band” that works great) and shoot the attacker if he draws near again in any life-threatening manner.  Shoot him until the threat is gone.  Here is an example of a good belly band holster.


5. Beware of ATMs.

If you drive up to an ATM, drive as close to the machine as possible. This will prevent people from getting between you and the machine. Check your mirrors to see if anyone is approaching. *Keep your car in drive with your foot on the brake so you can instantly drive off if there is trouble. Be prepared for the ATM with your card already in your hand! Don’t fumble around — get the money and then get out of there!

6. If the thief is armed…

What if the thief is pointing a gun at you? Tough call. If it’s just me in the car, I would get out and give him the car. If a child is strapped in the car, I have heard self-defense instructors tell people to just floor it and get out of there. Supposedly it is very difficult to shoot at a moving target. However, plenty of cars can’t move too fast (I have driven several “beaters” out there that went from zero to sixty in about an hour), and I really don’t know if the thug will shoot or not or how good his aim is. If you think you can escape that way, fine. But you only have one chance.

Or you can train now in gun disarms, get real good at it, and disarm him. But … if there is more than one gunman, sorry but I hate to tell you — you’re out of luck. There is no way you can disarm two people with guns pointing at you in that situation. You CAN however try to bargain with them and say, “Hey have the car, let me just get my kids out.” Who knows? The best thing is simply to be aware and stay away from high-crime areas.


If you want to learn gun disarms, here are two good videos to show you how to do it. Both instructors are experts in the Israeli martial art known as Krav Maga (Hebrew for “Contact Combat”):

And then there’s this one:

These techniques may look “simple” but they are very difficult to pull off in the heat and stress of battle. Simply watching a video is not good enough. If you want to be proficient, you must get with a partner and train. A lot.

You will fight like you train.


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