The nation’s capital is grappling with a troubling rise in carjackings, with the city on the cusp of hitting a grim milestone – 800 carjackings in 2023. Violent crime is up 39% in the nation’s capital compared with last year, and motor vehicle theft rose by 106%. This alarming trend has left residents deeply concerned and on edge, as they await solutions from their elected officials and law enforcement agencies.
In recent months, carjackings have become an all-too-common occurrence on the streets of Washington, D.C., prompting many to question the effectiveness of existing crime prevention measures and the ability of authorities to curb this alarming surge in criminal activity.
While the city grapples with this growing problem, the Senate Operations Center shared safety tips and strategies to minimize the risk of falling victim to carjackings. These practical guidelines can help us navigate the streets of the nation’s capital.
On the Road:
- Lock Doors and Keep Windows Up: Keeping your vehicle secure by locking doors and ensuring windows are up is a fundamental step in deterring potential carjackers.
- Drive in the Center Lane: Adopting the practice of driving in the center lane is recommended as it can discourage would-be carjackers from attempting to seize control of your vehicle.
- Avoid Driving Alone, Especially at Night: The adage “safety in numbers” holds true on the streets of D.C. Whenever possible, avoid driving alone, particularly during the nighttime hours.
- When Coming to a Stop, Leave Space to Maneuver: Allowing ample space between your vehicle and the one in front when coming to a stop provides an escape route in case of an emergency.
- Don’t Stop to Assist a Stranger with a Broken-Down Car: While it’s a natural inclination to assist those in need, it’s safer to call the police from a secure location rather than stopping to help strangers with car trouble.
Overall Safety Reminders:
- Park in Well-Lit Areas Near Sidewalks: Choose parking spots that are well-lit, close to sidewalks, and avoid areas with limited visibility, particularly at night.
- Conceal Valuables: Never leave valuables in plain view inside your vehicle, even if it’s locked. This reduces the temptation for thieves.
- Consider Parking in an Attended Garage: Whenever possible, consider parking in attended garages equipped with security personnel.
- Avoid Traveling Alone, When Possible: When navigating the city, try to travel with companions as there is safety in numbers.
- Before Exiting Your Vehicle, Always Look Around and Stay Alert: Staying aware of your surroundings is crucial. Before leaving your vehicle, take a moment to scan the area for any potential threats.
- Trust Your Instincts: If a situation feels unsafe or suspicious, do not hesitate to remove yourself from it promptly.
If Confronted by a Carjacker with a Weapon:
- Prioritize Your Safety: Your safety is paramount. If confronted by a carjacker with a weapon, surrender your vehicle without resistance and promptly exit the area.
- Attempt to Recall the Carjacker’s Physical Details: In the event of a carjacking, try to remember as many details as possible about the perpetrator, such as their gender, race, age, hair/eye color, distinctive features, and clothing. This information can be invaluable to law enforcement.
As residents of the nation’s capital continue to grapple with the unsettling surge in carjackings, these safety tips offer a ray of hope and empowerment. While awaiting comprehensive solutions from their elected officials, Washingtonians are determined to stay vigilant and prioritize their safety on the city’s streets.