Always be on alert.
Not too long ago, Fox News featured a story about car thieves targeting luxury vehicles at car washes and funerals. While plenty of people were shocked to learn of this alarming trend that’s flared up in the New York City area, which undoubtedly is already spreading elsewhere, I have to admit it didn’t faze me in the least.
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Sadly, most of the public is pretty unaware of how criminals think. Like the bleating sheep in a flock unawares a wolf is creeping ever closer, they seem to think they’re almost always safe from car thieves or that nobody would want their vehicle. The truth is it’s not just luxury vehicles that are targets and criminals aren’t just swiping them at funeral homes and car washes.
The reality is you need to always be aware of the potential for someone to steal your ride, including taking it at gunpoint. Two incidents which took place recently beautifully illustrate how thieves like predators in the wild are virtually always on the prowl for their next target.
One comes out of the Vancouver, Washington area and was reported by KGW. A guy refueled his Infiniti at the pumps, then pulled up to the air compressor to top off his tires. Probably out of convenience, he kept the car running as he filled up the tires, but a guy standing nearby on the sidewalk took notice. Once the Infiniti owner was filling up the rear passenger-side tire, the would-be thief ran up and got into the driver’s seat. The vehicle owner thought quickly and jumped into the passenger seat, then started striking the other man, who thankfully stopped the car and hopped out. Had he been armed with a gun, the situation could have ended far differently.
The other incident went down in Houston. As reported by WDBJ7, a repairman was working on a cooler located on the roof of a convenience store. It was at about 2 am when most people are in bed, but three men were on the prowl. One brandished a gun as they demanded the repairman throw down the keys to his work truck, but the would-be victim refused since the pickup was his livelihood. He was able to scare the thugs away even as the guy with the gun started climbing the ladder to the roof.
While both incidents didn’t result in a vehicle being successfully stolen, they do show that thieves can strike anywhere at any time. In the first case, the victim practically rolled out the welcome mat by leaving his car running while he wasn’t inside. However, in the second incident the victim didn’t do anything specific to attract attention, just he was isolated from possible help because of the time of night and his location.
Another common tactic used by thieves is to steal cars as victims are refueling. Thanks to keyless entry and ignition systems, some vehicles allow someone on the other side to not only get into one of the doors but also to fire up the engine as the owner is standing at the pump.
Thieves who want to carjack victims love to strike as their targets are in a transitional space, so that’s when you need to be most aware. This can include as you’re getting into or out of your vehicle, as you’re refueling, or do anything else that keeps your attention away from your surroundings. Of course, the best way to combat this is to always be aware of what’s going on around you and your vehicle. This requires practice. Some will find such a habit is “too paranoid” but with crime still on the rise, it not only could be the difference between getting your car stolen, it could be the difference between life and death.
Just like in the wild, human predators notice who among potential targets is aware of their surroundings. They don’t like to target people like that, preferring instead those with their head down or otherwise obviously unaware. As car thefts continue to rage out of control largely unchecked, your awareness could be the best deterrent.