Last week, Jeff Ross of Autotroplis and I were in Miami to attend a meeting of the Southern Automotive Media Association. En route to the meeting, we found ourselves in Miami’s ubiquitous traffic; like any other large city, rush hour in Miami has evolved into an all day thing. The car just ahead of us, in the median lane, was a spotless BMW M3 convertible. The driver was oblivious to anything but the cell phone glued to his ear, so I turned to Jeff and asked, “How easy do you think it would be to carjack that guy?” I think about things like this, just in case I need to change careers.
Jeff, who’s more upright (and probably more sane) than yours truly, pondered it for a minute before answering. “Not real difficult”, he said, “but where would you go? Traffic is bumper to bumper.”
I looked at the median, which had a low curb and a brief strip of grass. “You go over the median and you’re gone. There’s no traffic in the other direction.” Jeff looked and nodded in agreement, then we went back to inspecting women in bikinis. In the interest of science, of course.
Our conversation got me thinking how oblivious most drivers are behind the wheel. Good neighborhood, bad neighborhood, broad daylight or late at night, most drivers are completely unaware of what’s going on outside the confines of their rolling castle. Distracted by stereos, cell phones, nav systems or in-dash DVD players, they have no clue that someone may be approaching with less than good intentions.
I’m not a carjacker and I don’t play one on TV, but if I was, I’d have no lack of customers. If you’re wondering how exciting it would be to stare down the barrel of a .45, as a helpful man in a hoodie commandeers your ride, here are my top five tips:
Buy yourself a nice ride.
Sure, any kind of car can be carjacked, but thieves really prefer rides with a lot of add-ons. Those 20” wheels can be sold an hour after your car is stolen, and the HID lights you installed are probably next to go. Followed, shortly, by the $5k worth of amps, subs and video gear you put in your ride; they’ll sound kick-ass in Mr. Carjacker’s ride.
Carjackers count on drivers who aren’t paying attention, and they hate guys like me who actually make eye contact with them. It helps if you’re talking on the cell phone when you’re stopped at a light or stop sign, but it’s really better if you’re texting. Looking for a tune on your phone or MP3 player is another good way to be distracted, but I don’t think a carjacker is going to appreciate your taste in music. Look for your MP3 player to be tossed out the window just up the road. Whatever you do, don’t pay attention to your surroundings before you come to a stop, and especially don’t scan your mirrors for trouble while you’re stopped. Crime is something that happens to other people, not you.
Pull up close to the vehicle in front of you.
Why give yourself room to make an emergency exit? Instead, do what everyone else does, and pull up tight to the vehicle in front of you. Mr. Carjacker isn’t going to care about hitting the guy in front of you, or the guy behind you, or both; he’s concerned with getting the hell out of Dodge as quickly as possible. If you’d left yourself an escape route, you could be driving away in your own car, instead of trying to flag down a passing cop. Good luck with that.
Don’t lock your doors, and drive your convertible top down in bad neighborhoods.
Locked doors are for the paranoid, and you bought a convertible to enjoy top down motoring. Nothing bad is going to happen to you, because you’re cool with everyone and everyone’s cool with you. Everyone except the guy who jerks your door open, sticks the gun in your face and shouts “Get the f**k out of the car!” Crime happens to other people, not you. Too bad Mr. Carjacker didn’t get that memo.
Go to parties in questionable neighborhoods.
Alternatively, buy your recreational pharmaceuticals in bad neighborhoods, because it’s the badass thing to do. Sure, you could score locally with a lot less drama, but that eliminates the thrill of a street buy in a bad neighborhood. Likewise, you could party close to home, but partying in a seedy part of town just shows your cool, right? Mr. Carjacker didn’t get that memo, either, but he’s sure glad you drove to his neighborhood. It saves him gas money or bus fare, and makes his job just a little easier because he knows all the good spots to hide on his own turf.
Of course if you wanted to avoid getting carjacked, you could just do the opposite of what I advised above. But then you wouldn’t have those cool stories to tell, and chicks dig scars – especially from gunshot wounds.