Avoid Becoming a Victim of Carjacking

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By: Geraldine Kalabai – EMTV Online

“The rate of crime in Papua New Guinea is amongst some of the highest in the world,” this is according to the United States Overseas Security Advisory Council. And crime rates are highest in major cities such as Port Moresby, Lae, Madang and Mt Hagen.

The capital city, Port Moresby, has been rated 136 out of 140 in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2017 liveability index, and our score indicating that most aspects of living are severely restricted. This basically means that we have to be smarter and wiser living in a city that has a high ranking in crime.

One of the crime’s that has been on the rise since 2018, has been carjackings.

For those of us who own vehicles and drive around the city, it is a scary thought. But with the appropriate security measures and common sense we can move about the city without having significant issues.

Below are some tips to avoid becoming a victim of carjackings.

  • As you approach your vehicle, pay attention to your surroundings. If you see suspicious persons or vehicles, do not go to your vehicle. Instead walk to a safe place and call for help. Don’t confront suspicious persons or vehicles; let the police do it for you.
  • Always have your keys or remote ready to unlock your vehicle. Don’t spend time fumbling for your keys. The more time you take, the greater your risk of being carjacked.
  • Always drive with your doors locked and windows up. And choose the most direct routes possible, mix up your routine so that you are not a predictable target for criminals.
  • Pay attention to other vehicles which are following you. If you think you’re being followed, make false turns or drive in and out of high-traffic parking lots (shopping centres and shopping malls), drive to a police station, or use your mobile phone to ask for help.  
  • While driving don’t leave valuables in sight inside your car. If you must keep your purse or shopping bags in the vehicle, put them in the trunk or on the floor where they can’t be seen rather than on the seats. Never leave money in view inside your car, even if it’s just spare change.
  • Stay alert at intersections. Stay in the centre lane when possible and avoid driving in the far right lane. This lane is most vulnerable to carjacking. Don’t turn your attention to a mobile phone or radio. Observe 360 degrees around you, through your mirrors and windows. Keep a distance between your car and the one in front of you. This enables you to get around the car in front of you, if it stalls or if someone suspicious approaches your car.
  • Keep about one-half of the length of your vehicle between you and the vehicle ahead of you, this is so that you can manoeuvre out if necessary. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to see the rear tires of the vehicle ahead of you.
  • Avoid surveillance traps in gated communities. Most attempted or successful carjackings happen within the vicinity of the victim’s place of residence. Carjackers may surveil cars returning to a gated residence and trap you in before the gate opens. If you’re returning home to your own residence, wait on the street until the gate is opened if necessary, so that a car cannot pull up behind you and trap you in. If you are visiting someone else’s gated residence, call ahead to have the gate opened.
  • Carjackers may try to get you to stop by tricking you into believing you have a flat tire or other mechanical problems. If you do not feel safe, then drive carefully to a service station or other high-traffic area. And a most common one I’ve heard of, is at crossings, where the carjackers pretend to cross and hold traffic while their accomplices try to carjack you. That’s when rule 6 comes in handy.

The above tips are not guaranteed to save you from carjackings because crimes do and can occur anywhere. These are just measure to take to protect you. And if you are ever caught in a situation where you have a gun or knife pointed at you, its wiser to hand over your car keys, your life is far more important.