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Safeguarding Against Carjacking, Kidnapping, and Robbery on the Road: Strategies and Examples

This comprehensive article delves into various carjacking attack scenarios, encompassing high-speed driving, barricade breaching, escape maneuvers, and threat assessment, while providing a range of techniques to effectively evade and escape carjacking and other threats encountered while driving.

Safeguarding Against Carjacking, Kidnapping, and Robbery on the Road: Strategies and Examples
Safeguarding Against Carjacking, Kidnapping, and Robbery on the Road: Strategies and Examples

The importance of situational awareness and proactive measures to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of these opportunistic crimes is emphasized.

Types of Threats While in Automobile

  • Carjacking

  • Kidnap

  • Robbery

  • Assault

Common Techniques Used by Attackers to Carjack, Kidnap, and Robbery

  • Car Pinch

  • Bump and Run

  • Transition Point Attack- the victim in stoplights, shopping malls, private driveways, apartment complex parking lots

  • Illegal Road Block

  • Car Jack

  • Pretending to be a distressed driver or person on side of the road

During the crime of carjacking, there are no rigid guidelines to follow; instead, trust your intuition. Research indicates that women are more often targeted, likely due to the perception that they offer less resistance.

Additionally, 92% of carjacking victims are typically alone, making it essential to avoid driving during late hours, as most carjackings in the US occur between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. In cases where carjackers approach a vehicle with children inside, they often fail to notice the presence of small children, prompting the immediate removal of children from the car for safety reasons.

Enhance and Master Behind The Wheel Situational Awareness

Improving your situational awareness skills significantly boosts your chances of survival. Situational awareness does not entail living in constant paranoia; rather, it involves gathering information from your surroundings, calmly evaluating probabilities, and staying attentive. Developing good habits is key to positioning yourself advantageously. Here are some driving rules to abide by:

  • Raise your awareness level.

  • Stay off the phone and radio.

  • Keep your hand on the shifter when stopping.

  • When stopping, leave the car running and in gear.

  • Enter and exit the car quickly to know where you are going.

  • When entering your car have the keys ready so you can enter quickly.

  • Before entering the vehicle, look into the rear seat for possible threats.

  • When leaving the vehicle, look around you before turning off the ignition or taking it out of gear.

  • Always keep your car doors and windows locked. Attackers often enter through unlocked windows and doors.

  • Look for anomalies in your environment.

  • Have a plan for if something goes wrong.

  • If you have to travel through a dangerous part of town bring someone as it dramatically decreases the chance of attacks.

  • Always leave ample space between you and the car in front of you. Look for escape routes when stopping at a light.

  • Vary your routes whenever possible.

  • Keep watch in your mirrors. If you suspect someone is following you, stay in motion and circle the block to confirm.

  • If you are being followed, immediately call 911 and stay in populated areas as you make your way to a police station.

  • Always park in well-lit areas.

  • Immediately get in your car when leaving a location, lock doors, and drive away. If you MUST use your phone, quickly scan your surroundings after you have locked your doors.

  • Whenever you stop, leave your car in drive with your foot on the brake. Use your mirrors to scan your surroundings before getting out of the car,

  • Scan the area before you get out of your car, as well. Leave the vehicle running and in drive with foot on the brake as you do this. When satisfied that all is well, place the vehicle in park, turn off the car, and exit. (Drive-through, ATMs, fast food, etc.)

Become a Hard Target For Carjackers

Becoming a Resilient Target Against Carjackers The objective is to make it as challenging as possible for attackers to target you. Cultivating self-awareness skills will help you understand how you might appear to potential threats, enabling you to become a tougher target. Criminals seek easy opportunities and avoid prolonged confrontations.

Stay vigilant at red lights, thoroughly scanning your surroundings, especially the sides and rear. Be mindful of anyone approaching you. When stopping at a traffic light, maintain adequate space between your car and the one in front, allowing you to drive away if needed. Avoid parking near large trucks, vans, or obstructions that may hinder the visibility of witnesses.

Vans are a common abduction tool so position the driver door opposite of the van door. If traveling with small children avoid parking near vans.

Opt for well-populated parking spots where many people can see your vehicle. Enter and exit your car with confidence, as attackers often target those who appear vulnerable or distracted.

Project an alert and energetic demeanor when getting in or out of your vehicle. Before entering your car, carefully scan the area around it, including both the front and back seats, for potential threats. Upon being seated, promptly lock the doors and start driving.

improvised road spikes
improvised road spikes

Minimize distractions by avoiding phone calls and radio use. Maintain this routine when exiting your car as well. When preparing to stop, pull up to your parking space and scan the outside area of your car for potential threats. If it feels safe, park and exit the vehicle, proceeding to your destination promptly. Avoid lingering in your car and focusing on your phone, as this can provide more time for potential threats to strike.

Drive With Purpose

Maintain a pace that suggests confidence in your route while allowing yourself the ability to execute evasive maneuvers. The appropriate speed will vary based on your comfort level, so practice beforehand to find the right balance.

Like developing personal situational awareness, operating a vehicle also demands unique skills. Familiarize yourself with the last exit points on your route and stay informed about the ongoing events on the road ahead. Continuously scan for potential hazards, such as:

  • Bottlenecks.

  • Crowds

  • Roadblocks

  • Obstacles in the road

Counter Carjack Technique: Illegal Roadblock or barricade breach

When faced with a Illegal roadblock, the first option is to stop and reverse while maintaining a low profile behind the firewall of the car. If that proves impractical, attempt to navigate around the roadblock, even if it means going off-road or over the sidewalk.

If neither option is feasible, consider the next approach: breaching the roadblock. Roadblocks are often made from vehicles, so choose the lightest vehicle available, such as a car rather than an SUV. Target the trunk area of the roadblock vehicle, aiming the edge of your car's frame with the axle closest to the trunk point of the target vehicle.

Car Pinch From Front Counter Technique

As you approach the soft point, about 4-5 feet away, release your foot from the accelerator to transfer the weight of your car to the front. Then, when about 2 feet from the target, firmly reapply the accelerator. This sudden surge of energy should lift the front of your car and enable you to push the other vehicle out of the way.

Be cautious not to overcorrect the steering wheel after the breach. Continue moving through the scene without stopping for others and immediately call for help to ensure a swift and safe resolution.

How Do you Choose What is the Softest Point of A Vehicle Based Roadblock?

Where is the soft point of a illegal roadblock breach

In general, the trunk areas of cars and light pickup trucks are good soft targets if the vehicle should be perpendicular to you. If the trunk is pointing toward you it gets riskier.

The hardest thing about breaching is to prevent yourself from not stepping on the brake. We are trained to avoid hitting cars.

Counter Carjack Technique: Transitional Spaces Attacks

Transitional locations have a high percentage of attacks. They include areas like;

  • Pulling into driveways

  • Gate access points in from of your home or community.

  • Traffic lights

  • Stop signs

  • Crosswalks

  • Parking lots- upon entering and exiting the car

  • Pedestrians crossing street

Transitional space attack - Driver pulls into the driveway. Attackers pull up and behind the target vehicle. Attackers exit the vehicle and threaten the driver at gunpoint. The driver becomes aware and reverses direction and backs into the attack vehicles.

The driver continues the reverse direction of high-speed reverse. Watch till the end to see bullet holes in cars sheet metal.

Transitional space attack as the driver pulls behind the attacking car and blocks themself in.

Counter Carjack Technique: Defending the Car pinch defense

The car pinch is a very common carjacking- robbery technique worldwide. The attacking vehicle approaches from the front and blocks the target cars forward path. The target driver in this video turns his car wheel sharply and accelerates quickly crushing the threat in the rear door as they are trying to exit the vehicle.

V3 The high-speed reverse escape is also effective if the path behind the target vehicle clear. Review V5 below to see how a high-speed reverse escape is performed.

V4 Below is another type of attack. The threat approaches from behind and turns down in front of the target. The target driver performs a high-speed reverse escape and K turn once far enough.

V5 Combination of a Road Block with Car Pinch

When approaching a stop sign crosswalk or traffic light in your car make sure you leave enough space between you and the car in front of you so you can see their rear tires. If your car is bumper to bumper with theirs you have effectively barricaded yourself in.

Leaving enough space between your car and the vehicle in front will allow you to perform a turn if you notice a threat.

Always have a plan when approaching a transition point. Locate paths for escape either by moving forward or in reverse. If you had to escape a threat, know where you would go.

In a life or death situation, all surfaces become drivable so do not be scared to use sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, or run over a stop sign.

Counter Carjack Technique: High-Speed Reverse Escape

Maintain a hand position on Transmission Shifter so you can quickly put it into reverse. While at a stop, check all directions for pedestrians and on cars and traffic.

Quickly shift from drive into reverse and accelerate past 45 feet (3-4 car lengths) from the starting point and then perform a "J" or "K" turn.

Counter Carjack Technique: High-Speed Reverse Escape

Practice this technique until you do not have to take your eyes off the road to see what gear the car is in. It's critical you practice accelerating in reverse starting from the "D" drive. Get comfortable with performing this technique.

This is a significant way to escape and evade all these types of carjacking

If they have a gun get yourself into the safer range of 45 feet (3-4 car lengths). Accuracy of firearms falls off drastically at 45 feet (3-4 car lengths) and beyond. Studies have shown most people can hit a target at that range.

Try and take a defensive low position behind the car's firewall / engine block as your drive

Bump and Run Carjack-Robbery

Criminals use the bump and run techniques to carjack or rob people The attacker will deliberately bump their car into the victim’s car in the front or rear.

The victim gets out to exchange insurance information and look at the damage. The attacker and or accomplice intimidates the victim and robs them and their car.

Counter Carjack Technique: Stop in public areas or call the police while driving.

If you get into an accident, pull your car into an area with people around and that is well lit. Keep driving with your flashers on until you find a good public area. The flashers are so they know you will be stopping. If you are concerned that the driver of the car is a potential threat, call law enforcement, and remain in your vehicle with doors secured and windows sealed until law enforcement arrives.

Pinched In the Front and Rear

If you are pinched in front and back you can make the decision to ram the opponent's vehicle.

Perform Threat Assessment Of Unknown Routes

Route surveys can give you a baseline for situational awareness. They allow you to anticipate how someone will attack you. It is a complex what-if game that offers you the opportunity to remove potential trouble areas along the route. Avoid the high threat areas of the route.

Stillness is Death

Speed and movement give you many defenses. It makes it harder for the attackers to use weapons as well as access to you and your vehicle. Never sacrifice your mobility.

Chose Not To Be a Victim of Carjacking or Roadside Robbery

The significance of situational skills cannot be emphasized enough when dealing with these types of attacks. Our primary focus should always be on escaping and evading. As mentioned earlier, these attacks are often driven by opportunism, and criminals are more likely to act if they believe they can escape undetected.

Escape from attempted kidnapping using vehicle car roadblock

Situational awareness plays a pivotal role in determining the likelihood of an attack and its success. To protect ourselves, we must not provide attackers with the opportunity they seek. Stay vigilant and proactive in avoiding potential threats.

Violence Prevention and Conflict Management Resources

The Center for Violence Prevention and Self-Defense Training (CVPSD) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing evidence-based training in violence prevention and self-defense. With a focus on unbiased program development, CVPSD offers customized programs to individuals and organizations, equipping them with the tools to enhance personal safety and contribute to violence prevention in their communities. The Center reaches individuals and communities through partnerships with schools and other nonprofits, community groups, as well as classes for the public.


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