Carjacking safety tips: What to do if you're approached by a carjacker

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago police say there's been an uptick in carjackings in the last few months. Security expert Moody Andrews explains what to do if you're caught in a similar crime.

You may think it won't happen to you, but it only takes seconds to become the victim of a carjacking. If confronted, Andrews says to simply give up the car.

"You have a lot of opportunities to do things right, to keep yourself from being a victim," Andrews said. "You also have to remember something, the best witness is you."

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The attack left her bruised and battered, but 21-year-old Isabel Cruz easily could've been killed.

Andrews has spent more than 25 years in law enforcement and security. He took ABC7's Evelyn Holmes through several carjacking scenarios to try to avoid becoming a victim.

"Alright, this is how it's done. Her back was turned. She wasn't looking around she was trying to figure out where were her keys," Andrews said.

He said one of the biggest mistakes people make - besides not being aware of their surroundings - is sitting distracted in your car with the doors unlocked. It's happening more since the pandemic has forced many people to work out of their cars.

"Always do it in situation where people are constantly coming around you," Andrews recommended, like near a police station or in a parking lot of a fast food restaurant.

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So far this year in Chicago, vehicular hijackings have almost doubled in number from the same time last year. And carjackings increased over 100% from 2019 to 2020.

Andrews says another costly mistake is not leaving yourself an escape route.

"If you can't see the back wheels of a car, then you are too close," Andrews said. "I say, keep a half a car distance in front of you because that's all you need to swerve around."

Some carjackers have even been known to fake an accident to approach you and steal your car. Don't stop. Instead, try to get the license plate and head to the nearest police station.

And while Andrews cautions that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to avoiding being a victim of a crime, he says being prepared for trouble is a good start.

"Right now, you need everything you possibly can to keep yourself safe," Andrews said. "Not your possessions, but to keep yourself safe."
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