AAA: Violent car jackings on the rise in DC, Maryland

WASHINGTON D.C. – Statistics provided by AAA Mid-Atlantic show the number of violent carjackings around the DMV have risen at an alarming rate.

They site numbers from the latest Maryland Uniform Crime report prepared by the Maryland State Police. It shows a sharp rise in the number of deaths attributed to carjackings. In 2012, there was just one homicide and another in 2013. By 2015 and ‘16 (the last year of sorted data by the state) the homicides had risen to 4 and 7, respectively.

In the five-year span, 2016 also saw a jump in the number of serious and slight injuries tied to carjackings. There were more than double the number of serious injuries from 2015 to 2016 (11 to 23) and close to a 40 percent rise in slight injuries (84 to 138) because of carjackings.

“People are reluctant and rightly so to give up their vehicles and they try and fight back but that's the worst thing that you can do because you'll only provoke the carjacker,” said John B. Townsend II, Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “In Maryland, almost 70 percent of all carjackings are at the hand of an armed assailant.”

Townsend said four years ago law enforcement leaders were encouraging people to fight back when confronted with carjackers but today’s advice is to give up your vehicle rather than deal with the possibility of injury or death.

At least one exception was discussed, however, when Townsend was asked where potential victims are most vulnerable.

“The danger zones would be parking lots, gas stations especially,” said Townsend. “When you drive up to the ATM window we recommend that when you go that you keep your car in gear in case a carjacker leaps out of nowhere.”
“Their biggest component is the element of surprise and the element of fear,” said Townsend. “They're trying to intimidate you; they're trying to provoke you with fear. They're trying to force you to give up your car.”

AAA passed along some advice in case you are targeted:
• Never get in the car with the carjacker. If the carjacker threatens you with a gun or other weapon, give up your car. Or throw the keys as far as you can. Don’t argue. Your life is worth more than the vehicle.
• If a carjacker threatens you with a gun, knife, brass knuckles, or another weapon, don’t put up a fight.
• If the carjacker forces you to drive, buckle up, and consider staging a fender bender at an intersection.
• Try to remember what the antagonist looked like - sex, race, age, hair, eye color, special features, and clothes.