Auto Theft and Car Jacking

Auto Theft
In the United States a vehicle is stolen every 25-30 seconds. Although Longview's auto theft
statistics have changed little during the last several years, Longview still averages just over
one auto theft per day. This serious crime costs the victims both time and money, and it causes all of our insurance rates to increase. Additionally, stolen vehicles are often used to commit other crimes.

You can help reduce the number of these crimes and your risk of becoming a victim by
practicing basic prevention techniques.

  • Never leave your keys in the car or in the ignition, even if your going to leave it for just a minute. Many auto thefts occur when people leave their car running while they run inside a convenience store or other location where they feel they will be gone for a short time and can keep an eye on their car.
  • Always lock your car, even when it is parked at your home.
  • Avoid parking your vehicle in isolated areas where there is little foot or vehicle traffic. Unattended parking lots and enclosed parking garages also increase the risks.
  • Write down your tag number and the vehicle identification number (VIN) and keep that information in your wallet or purse. Also, keep your vehicle registration with you rather than leave it in your car. If your car is stolen, you will have necessary information to give to investigating officers that will help them to recover your vehicle. Many times, victims do not know their license number to give to officers at the scene and must wait and call it in at a later time. This causes unnecessary delays and reduces the chances of your vehicle being recovered quickly.
  • Keep your vehicle in good running condition and enough gas to get to and from your destination.

Carjacking is a serious, often violent crime that involves stealing a car by force. It is a crime of opportunity with the thief searching for the most vulnerable prey sometimes as the first step in another crime. Since most states do not specifically include "carjacking" in their criminal codes they are usually reported as armed robbery or auto theft there are no hard statistics that exist on time, place and victims. However, some facts have emerged over the years.
  • Carjacking isn't just a "big city" problem. It happens in suburbs, small towns and rural areas.
  • Carjackings can occur at anytime, but the majority appear to occur at night.
  • Carjackers don't choose their victims by race, sex or age. They look for the best
  • opportunity to commit their crime.
Being a crime of opportunity, carjackers will look for areas that afford them increased odds of finding a victim. Although it could happen anywhere, some favorite places include:

  • Intersections controlled by stop lights or signs.
  • Self-serve gas stations and car washes.
  • Automated teller machines.
  • Garages and parking lots for shopping malls and grocery stores.
  • Residential driveways and streets as people enter or exit their vehicles.
  • Highway exit and entry ramps or any other place where drivers slow down or stop.
Your chances of being the victim of a carjacking are statistically low. However, the threat does exist and you can reduce the risks even more by following some basic prevention guidelines.

  • When approaching your car to enter, walk with purpose and stay alert. Be aware of your surroundings. Watch for suspicious people or vehicles when entering or exiting your vehicle.
  • Have your key in hand as you approach your car. Look around and inside of your car before getting in.
  • Be wary of people asking 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.
  • Keep doors locked and windows rolled up (at least partway) whenever you are in your car, regardless of the length of your trip. Be especially cautious at stop signs, in parking lots .and remote areas.
  • Do not pick up hitchhikers.
  • Plan ahead! Know how to reach your destination before beginning any trip in your car.
  • Study road maps ahead of time and avoid asking strangers for directions or appearing lost.
  • Drive in the left lane to make it harder for would-be car jackers to approach your car.
  • Honk your horn and attempt to drive cautiously to the nearest well-populated and well-lit
  • location if danger seems imminent. If you have a cellular telephone, call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • When coming to a stop, stop far enough behind the vehicle in front of you to allow room for you to maneuver around it should you sense trouble and need to get away.
  • Try to avoid driving alone, particularly at night.
  • Do not exit your car or roll down a car window to speak with a stranger if involved in a minor traffic accident. Exchange insurance information through a window or motion for the other driver to follow you to the nearest well-populated area. Be aware of the "bump and rob" technique sometimes used by carjackers where your car is intentionally bumped in the rear by another car. When you get out to exchange information, a passenger in the other car jumps into your car and drives off.
  • Don't stop to assist a stranger whose car has broken down. Help instead by using a cellular phone or driving to a pay phone to call police to help.
  • Keep your car keys separate from other personal keys. If your car is stolen, the thief will have your vehicle registration with your home address (if you haven't followed advice to keep it on you rather than in the car) and a key to your house. Have your locks changed if this is the case.
  • Park in well-lighted areas near sidewalks and away from anything that limits your visibility or provides concealment for a potential carjacker such as dumpsters, woods, and large trucks or vans.
If you do find yourself being carjacked...

  • Surrender you car keys and car on the first request. If you determine it is safe to do so, exit out the opposite door to avoid contact with the carjacker. Remember that carjacking is a form of auto theft and is generally covered by your automobile insurance. The possible loss of your car is not worth the risk of serious injury or death.
  • Get away from the area as quickly as possible.
  • Try to remember what the carjacker looked like sex, age, race, hair and eye color, clothing, tattoos, and other special characteristics.
  • Report the crime to police immediately.