Carjacking is a relatively rare occurrence in Maine. However, you can learn to be safer in your car no matter where you are. Here are the most important steps you can take:
- Safety always begins with awareness
Know what’s around your car at all times, even when stopped at a light. Drivers distracted by speaking on the cellphone, eating, doing their makeup have proven to be more dangerous than drunken drivers. Be aware, even when stopped.
- Keep your doors locked
The only time your car doors should ever be unlocked is when you are getting in or out of or unloading the car. A lot of car jacking happens at stoplights. It’s much harder to pull someone out of a car that is locked than not. Leaving your car unlocked leaves it open for anyone to climb in, an assailent, a child, a burglar – keep it locked.
- Leave space to escape
A rule I always follow when stopping behind another car is to leave enough room that I could pull away if I had to – even if that means driving up on the sidewalk. If someone approaches your car with a weapon, your first instinct should be to drive off fast.
- Understand the rule about second crime scene
As a general rule, you should never let an assailant take you to a second crime scene. They are not taking you there with good intentions and, chances are, they want to remove your options for survival. If someone does happen to get into the car with you, get out and run if you can. If you can’t it’s recommended that you force the car to crash against a stationary object – hopefully at a speed that won’t kill or injure you severely.
- Be careful about fake police officers
This is a nightmare situation, but some criminals equip their cars with flashing lights to pull people over. This has mostly been done to target young women driving by themselves. Occasionally one of them will even dress as a police officer. We’re taught to comply with law enforcement, and disobeying the law can bring charges. Unmarked cars are more common on the turnpike, where it’s unlikely such criminals would be active for fear of being caught. So, if you’re being pulled over in the middle of nowhere:
- Slow down and signal your intent to stop and try to pull over in a well-lit public area (may not always be an option).
- Look at the car, if it has blue flashers on a top-mounted light-bar it is most likely a real police officer.
- Tell the officer you don’t feel safe and ask to be escorted to the nearest police station.
- Can you see the license plate in the mirror and is it a government plate?
- If you don’t feel comfortable, keep your door locked and roll your window down just a crack to hand your license and registration over.
- If anything makes you feel wrong, tell the officer that you aren’t comfortable and you’re going to call 911.
- Always carry a charged cell-phone
Even if you don’t have service, like if you haven’t paid your bill, all cell phones will dial 911. If you can’t afford cell service, as least carry a charged phone for 911 calls.