10 Tips to Minimize Risk of Becoming Carjacking Victim

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dear Street Smart:

One night my friend was driving alone north on Brookhurst and turned right on a cross street. Just after he turned, a man jumped out in front of his car, so he stopped to avoid hitting him.

As soon as he stopped, another man ran up to his window and aimed a gun at him. The two men robbed my friend at gunpoint, took his identification and papers, money, watch and valuables, took his car and drove away. He reported it to the police.

My question is, what should people do in such a case to avoid carjacking? Should they swerve around the first man and speed away? Or did my friend do the right thing? What if a woman is driving? Should she do the same or what? What if other people are in the car?

Quan Nguyen Westminster

The California Highway Patrol offers 10 suggestions to minimize your risk of being the victim of carjackers. They apply to men, women, drivers alone and those with passengers.

1. Keep doors locked and windows rolled up whenever driving. Most carjackers aren't interested in trying to break into a car, because it is so much easier to get in through an unlocked door or open window.

2. Avoid lightly traveled streets, especially after dark and in high-crime areas. Carjackers are more likely to approach someone in areas where they might not be seen.

3. Be aware of your surroundings and who is around both you and your car, especially in parking lots. Pay special attention when you approach your car in a parking lot. Have your keys in hand. If someone is loitering nearby, keep walking until they leave. When you are stopped in traffic, stay alert to what is going on around you.

4. If somebody bumps your car or tries to get you to pull over, drive to an area where help might be available before stopping. Look for a service station, police station or well-lighted, well-populated area. When you get out of your car, look for someone who might be willing to observe while you exchange information with the other driver. Lock all the doors while you are out of your car exchanging information. This will prevent a third party from stealing it while you are concentrating on other things.

5. Always park in well-lighted areas.

6. When possible, avoid curb-side lanes on city streets. Fast operators waiting on curbs and sidewalks can open an unlocked door and be inside a car in seconds.

7. Drive into your garage front first. Garages can be perfect places for carjackers. Driving in front first allows you to see anyone trying to hide. Be sure to keep your headlights on at night.

8. When stopped in traffic, leave enough space in front of you for an escape route. Carjackers often approach drivers stuck in traffic. If you feel threatened while you are stopped in traffic and you have left yourself room to maneuver, hit your horn and step on the gas.

9. Don't leave valuables in your car. They attract carjackers. Store anything tempting in your trunk.

10. If you are confronted, don't resist. Carjackers may or may not be prepared to follow through on threats of violence. Don't try to find out. Your vehicle may be valuable, but it's also replaceable. You aren't.

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In Santa Ana this week, two nighttime freeway closures will occur on both south and northbound portions of the Santa Ana Freeway. Caltrans workers will close the southbound Santa Ana Freeway at The City Drive to Main Street from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. tonight through Wednesday. The northbound Santa Ana Freeway from Main Street to Chapman Avenue will be closed from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday through Friday.

Caltrans suggests southbound drivers exit at The City Drive, take the eastbound Garden Grove Freeway to the southbound Costa Mesa Freeway to the southbound Santa Ana Freeway.

Northbound drivers can exit at Main Street, turn left to Chapman Avenue and proceed to the northbound Santa Ana Freeway.

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The Orange County Transportation Authority will offer an alternative to traffic congestion and high parking fees for Los Angeles Rams fans during the upcoming football season with Express Bus service from eight Orange County locations.

The express bus will arrive at Anaheim Stadium 30 minutes before kickoff and leave 15 minutes after game's end. Service will run throughout the season including the two pre-season games, the first of which takes place Aug. 14.

The fare for this service is $2 each way, and free for children 6 years and under. A season Rams fan bus pass is $36.

To purchase bus passes and get information on location of the bus stop nearest you, call OCTA at (714) 636-RIDE. From South County, call 1 (800) 794-RIDE.

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