There are more than 250 million passenger vehicles on the road in the United States. The availability and temptation are very high for criminals to target your vehicle, your personal belongings, and you. However, just because there is a chance that a thief or an attacker has you in their sights, it doesn’t mean that you have to be a victim. With a bit of training in car self-defense, some good decision-making, and a focused mind, you should be able to get away.
Generally speaking, your car and its contents become a target every time you leave the security of your driveway or garage. That doesn’t mean you have to be constantly paranoid or fearful. What you do have to do is minimize the opportunities you give thieves to either steal your vehicle or grab your valuables from inside. The most obvious preventative measure is locking your car doors. This simple tip can persuade a thief to move on to an easier target.
Thieves want to do the least amount of work possible in the shortest amount of time. The more difficulties you create for them, the less likely you are to become a victim. With that in mind, keep all valuables out of sight when storing them in your car. Lock laptops, cameras, cell phones, and other targeted items in your glove compartment or trunk. It takes only a second or two for a thief to shatter your window and grab your car’s contents. They will be gone from the scene before anyone takes notice.
Don’t Turn an Errand Into an Attack
The gas station is a prime location for a variety of car-related crimes. Leaving your car running for only a minute is like throwing your keys into the waiting hands of a thief and allowing him to take off with your vehicle. Your casual attitude is exactly what thieves rely on to score big. Even when you are pumping gas always lock your doors and roll up all your windows. This may sound extreme, but as you watch the pump, thieves are watching you. They will reach into your open window, grab your wallet or other valuables, and race from the scene before you even pull your receipt from the pump. Also, be aware of strangers coming up to you at the pump asking for directions or spare change. They may be sent to distract you while their partners are quickly grabbing your possessions—or taking off in your car!
Close-Quarters Car Self-Defense
The use of parking lots and garages is a necessity when shopping or attending events at large stadiums or sporting arenas. They are convenient to use, but they are also prime locations for muggings, theft, and violent attacks, which could include rape, kidnapping, or even murder. Several common-sense principles should be engrained in everyone’s mind when leaving your car at these locations.
First and foremost, be aware and alert of your surroundings at all times. Walk briskly with your head high, free of distractions, and focus on getting to your car while simultaneously scanning the parking lot for anything out of the ordinary. The attacker’s victims are the weak, the confused, and the distracted. Attackers don’t want someone that may give them a challenge if confronted. Have your keys ready, enter your car quickly, and lock the door immediately.
In crowded parking lots, always pay close attention to the vehicles parked next to you when walking to your car to leave. Abductors scan the parking lot for women and girls who are alone, then park next to them, usually waiting in a van or large truck. As a woman opens her car door, the attacker jumps out, grabs the victim, and speeds off all within a matter of seconds. Always park in well-lit areas and try to avoid parking spaces located on the outer fringe of the lot. Attackers focus on this area because it makes their getaway after the crime much easier. Remember, your goal is to make the criminal’s job as difficult as possible for them.
Make Things Complicated for a Thief
During hectic holiday times, knowing car self-defense is especially critical. Make several trips to your car with your purchases and lock them in the trunk. Buy your high-priced items at the end of your shopping day, and carry them on your final trip to your car. If a thief wanted to break into your vehicle while you were shopping, he may end up with only a sweater or socks and not the laptop you just purchased. If at any time you feel uncomfortable walking to your car, ask the mall’s security personnel to escort you. You’re not being paranoid or troublesome. You are being smart, and being smart will keep you alive.
Be extra careful and alert if you have to use the stairs or the elevator in a parking garage. Both are prime locations for an ambush by thieves or abductors. You can be trapped and surrounded on the stairway landings or assaulted between floors in an elevator. Avoid using them alone; squeeze into the elevator with another group of people or follow others that are also using the stairways. If you have no other choice but to travel alone, be alert for suspicious sounds and make note of possible exits and escape routes if you need to flee. It is always a good idea to have a pepper spray canister attached to your key chain or carry a personal high-decibel alarm on you at all times.
Even with common-sense thinking and safety precautions, you may still be a target in the eyes of an attacker. If there is either a physical confrontation or an armed assault, you do have some effective car self-defense options to protect you and possibly save your life.
Entering Your Vehicle
You are at your most vulnerable once you have unlocked your car door and are about to enter your vehicle. An open door allows a carjacker or abductor to take advantage of the situation. The number-one rule that must be followed no matter the circumstances is, don’t ever be taken away from the scene. Your chances of surviving the ordeal, statistically speaking, greatly diminish if you are abducted. If grabbed, fight back with all your strength. You would be surprised how much power you can generate when the adrenaline levels in your body surge. Twist and turn to try and knock your assailant off of your body. Use the tight confines of the parking lot to your advantage. Push off other cars for leverage and impact points.
One method of car self-defense is to shout for help with your loudest screams. (It’s recommended that you scream “fire” instead of “help” to attract the most attention!) Kick, scratch, punch, pull hair; do whatever is needed to stop him from forcibly taking you away. If he wraps his hand around your mouth, don’t hesitate to bite down and rip off a chunk of flesh to make him release.
Run For Your Life
If your assailant threatens you at gunpoint to make you get into the car, plead for your life as a distraction. When possible, push him and the gun aside and run away. Flee in a zigzag pattern to prevent him from locking in a good shot and don’t stop. Most likely he won’t attempt a shot for fear of attracting attention to himself. It is a dangerous maneuver. But, as mentioned earlier, your chances for survival are much better than if you are taken away by your attacker.
Defend From Inside
Most people feel secure when they are sitting behind the wheel. However, a rolled-down window while waiting at a stop sign or traffic light can be an invitation for trouble. Your belongings on the seat can be irresistible targets for thieves. When an attacker reaches into your open window, most people instinctively would try to push their advancing arm back out. This will have little or no success. Instead, do the unexpected and pull his arm in further! The energy he exerts to force his arm into your vehicle will work against him and make it a relatively easy action for you. Then, lock and hyperextend his arm using the steering wheel as a fulcrum. This is an excellent and effective method of car self-defense.
Several weapons work well to help protect you from auto-related crimes. A firearm is beneficial in life-or-death situations, but it isn’t legal to use against less extreme vehicular crimes. Pepper spray or mace works well when confronted by someone with “road rage”. An extending tactical baton or short stick stored within arm’s reach can also keep a large assailant or weapon-wielding person at bay.