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carjacking self-defense

Carjacking is a topic that is increasingly becoming a major concern in different cities around the world. It is an act of stealing a car while the driver is present inside the car, either through the use of armed force or by coercion. The act of carjacking usually involves the use of a weapon, especially a gun, which can make the situation extremely dangerous for the victim.

What makes the issue even more alarming is that carjacking is not a problem that is restricted to large, dangerous cities such as Chicago. Rather, it can occur in any other location, including suburbs, small towns, and even rural areas. It is particularly noteworthy that most carjackings involve cars that have their engines running with the keys left in the ignition, making it an easy target for the offenders.

These stolen cars may end up being used to commit other violent crimes, proving the severity of the issue’s dangerous impact on people’s safety. It is essential for both law enforcement agencies and individuals to be vigilant and take the necessary precautions to limit the occurrence of carjacking crimes.

Basic Carjacking Prevention Tips

Here are some general carjacking prevention tips:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. This is the most important tip for preventing carjacking. Pay attention to people and vehicles around you, and if you see anything suspicious, trust your gut and leave the area.
  • Don’t be a target. Carjackers are looking for easy targets, so make it difficult for them to target you. This means avoiding driving in high-crime areas when possible, always parking in well-lit areas, and keeping your doors locked at all times.
  • Don’t resist. If you are being carjacked, most of the time, you should comply 100%. Carjackers are often armed and dangerous and resisting could put you in even more danger. Instead, give them your car and your belongings.
    • We always tell people to resist 100% of the time, until you have the opening and opportunity to flip the switch and fight back with 100% of your effort. You have to know when is the right time to do what type of fighting, which often only comes with training.
  • Report the crime. If you are the victim of a carjacking, report the crime to the police immediately. This may help them catch the criminals and prevent future carjackings.

Here are some additional tips for carjacking prevention:

  • Have your car keys ready, not in your pocket or purse. This will make it easier to get into your car quickly, instead of fumbling at the door.
  • If you are stopped at an intersection, roll down your window only enough to talk to the other driver. This will make it more difficult for a carjacker to reach in and grab you.
  • If you are approached by someone who asks for help, drive to a well-lit area and call the police. Don’t stop in a secluded area or get out of your car.
  • If you are being carjacked, try to remember as much information as possible about the carjackers and their vehicle. This information can help the police catch the criminals.

By following these tips, you can reduce your risk of being carjacked. However, it is important to remember that there is no foolproof way to prevent carjacking. If you are the victim of a carjacking, remember that it is not your fault and that you are not alone. There are resources available to help you cope with the emotional and financial impact of carjacking.

After this general overview, let’s deep dive into some more specifics. 

Carjacking Prevention: When getting into your car…

  • Stay alert and walk with purpose. Keep your head up and scan your environment, not focused on your smartphone or other distracting device.
  • Approach your vehicle with your car keys and keychain pepper spray already in hand. Look around, inside, and under your vehicle before getting in.
  • Close at lock your doors immediately upon getting in your vehicle. Do not wait for your car to lock automatically when you put your car in drive.
  • Be cautious of anyone hanging around your car, or loitering in the general area. If something doesn’t feel right, go back inside where you came from and assess the situation from safety.
  • Trust your instincts: if something or someone makes you feel uneasy, if you are able, get into your car quickly, immediately lock the doors and drive away. Or turn around and go back into the building you just came out of.

Carjacking Prevention: When driving on the road…

  • No matter how quick the trip or how “safe the neighborhood is”, always keep your doors locked and windows at least partially rolled up.
  • When stopped at intersections, ATMs, gas stations, and convenience stores, be especially alert. This is a favorite entry opportunity for carjackers.
  • When you are coming to a stop, you should still be able to see the rear tires of the car ahead of you touching the pavement. This leaves enough room to maneuver around other cars, and escape if need to get away quickly. 
  • When the option is there, drive in the center lane. This makes it harder for carjackers to approach your vehicle.
  • When possible avoid driving alone, especially at night.
  • Do not stop to assist strangers whose car is broken down. Instead, drive to the nearest safe location and call the police for help.
  • You should not be using your phone while driving anyways, so keep your cell phone in your pocket. This way, if your vehicle is stolen, your cell phone will not be left inside and you will have a way of contacting 911.

Carjacking Prevention: When getting out of your car…

  • Always park in well-lighted areas, near sidewalks or walkways. Avoid anything else that limits your visibility, such as parking near dumpsters, large vans or trucks, or next to woods.
  • Never leave valuables out in view, always lock your car doors and take the keys with you.
  • Always look around before you exit your vehicle and stay alert to your surroundings, even if you are in a rush.

What to do if you are carjacked...

  • If you are threatened with a gun or other weapon, comply and give up your car. Your life is worth more than your car, get away from the area and run to safety, not just away.
  • Try to remember and identify characteristics such as sex, race, age, special features, hair and eye color, and clothes. If another vehicle is involved, take note of its make, model, color, and license plate if possible.
  • Report the crime to the police ASAP.

When to fight back...

Yes, complying 100%, giving up your vehicle, and running to safety is ideal. But unfortunately, this is not always possible. So let’s mention a couple of possible scenarios…

  • What if young children are strapped in the backseat, and the carjacker is not allowing you the opportunity to get them out?
  • What if the carjacker is also attempting to kidnap you and bring you to a secondary secluded area with no witnesses or other people to help you?
  • What if the carjacker pulls you out of your car and starts to beat you, or threatened to kill you?


We can probably go on and on with “what if “scenarios, but sometimes the worst case happens. But in certain situations, you have no other choice but to fight back like your life or the life of a loved one depends on it. The commonly referenced statistic is that even if you comply completely, 25% of carjacking victims are still injured to a various degree anyways.

This percentage goes down to 18% if the victim fights back. This, however, is referring to people with some sort of training giving them an advantage if they do so. Just last week I read a story about a carjacker attempting to steal an off-duty police officer’s car at gunpoint. The carjacker was shot dead.

This leads to the final statistic, dropping the percentage further to 6% if the victim is a concealed firearm carrier, and can successfully draw and present the firearm on target. Shots fired, or just scared off by the drawn weapon, a trained and practiced CCW carrier statistically has the best chance in this unfortunate situation.

If you find yourself in a situation where a carjacker is attempting to take your vehicle by force, it is important that you take action to protect yourself. Your best course of action will depend on your level of training and expertise, as well as your ability to think quickly and stay calm under pressure. Self-defense weapons such as pepper spray or a stun gun may be of great use for you.

If you happen to be a trained martial artist with extensive experience in self-defense techniques, you may be better equipped to handle a carjacker than someone without this kind of training. Similarly, if you are a licensed concealed carrier who has undergone firearms training and knows how to handle yourself in high-stress situations, you may be better prepared to defend yourself and your property. You don’t need to be a black belt to defend yourself, but some specific and effective training will go a long way. You will need to fight back until your attacker is incapacitated and you feel safe, or until you can get away to safety.

It is important to note, however, that not everyone is equipped to handle these kinds of situations on their own. If you feel threatened or under attack, it is always best to call for help or run away and seek the assistance of law enforcement as quickly as possible. Remember, your safety should always be your top priority.

As always be safe, and be prepared.

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