A Carjacking Prevention Reminder

by Safety Connection

1-22-22: This week a woman was carjacked in broad daylight on the east side of Madison in front of a sandwich shop. A man got out of an SUV and pointed a gun at her as she was approaching her vehicle. He then took her keys from her pocket and drove off in it with another passenger from the suspect SUV. The driver of that SUV also fled the scene. So far no suspects have been taken into custody.

Thankfully carjacking is a crime that is still uncommon in Madison, but it’s surging across the country. In 2020, Minneapolis saw a 537% increase in carjackings. New Orleans, Milwaukee, Nashville and Kansas City also saw significant increases.

Crime experts say one reason this crime is on the increase is because mask-wearing is common during the pandemic which allows the suspects to conceal their identities, and victims don’t necessarily think anything is out of the ordinary when someone wearing a mask approaches them (until a weapon is displayed, of course).

In 2021 Madison saw several carjackings including 3 in a quiet residential area on the far west side. A 16-year-old was taken into custody in November and an arrest warrant was issued for another 16-year-old who may still be at-large.

In the fall Madison Police offered some safety tips for preventing a carjacking which crime experts say is often a “crime of opportunity” perpetrated on “distracted people.” Once again, here are MPD’s safety tips:

  • If parking in your garage, consider remaining in the car with the car door locked until the garage door is fully down.
  • If parking on the street, in a parking lot, or a driveway, pause momentarily after coming to a stop. Keep car doors locked and monitor the area. If being approached by another vehicle, remain in your locked vehicle and consider your route out of the area should you decide that it would be best to drive away out of the area and call for assistance.
  • If confronted by an armed person demanding your property, separate yourself from your property, and move slowly away from the armed suspect(s). Your personal safety is the priority in these situations. Protect yourself and do your very best to be the best possible witness you can be to pass along detailed information to the officers who will respond when notified.
  • Assess the area around your home for large areas of darkness that can be addressed with additional lighting. Consider parking in the best lit area possible.
  • Assess your routines, especially related to returning home in overnight hours of darkness. Give thought to your route home and where you would expect to see parked cars. Watch for occupied parked vehicles or vehicles moving slowly in the neighborhood. If you routinely arrive home between the hours of 11 PM and 2:00 am in the area recently being targeted, consider working with a family member or neighbor to have someone meet you as you arrive with additional exterior lights on. 
  • Neighborhood associations or apartment complexes can increase information-sharing to keep residents aware of updates to this spree and/or new criminal behavior in the area.

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