DC on pace to reach most carjackings in decade

WASHINGTON — D.C. is on pace to see its highest number of carjackings this decade.

From Jan. 1 to July 25, 2018, AAA Mid-Atlantic reports there were 92 carjackings reported in the District, compared to 95 during all of 2017. There were 142 in 2016; 148 in 2015; 134 in 2014; 149 in 2013; 146 in 2012 and 152 in 2011, AAA said, based on information from D.C. police.

“It is at once the most frightening, violent and virulent form of motor vehicle theft,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs.

Assailants use the element of surprise in carjackings with the incidents lasting just 20 to 30 seconds on average, AAA said.

“Don’t panic, give up the keys without fighting or resisting, and stay alive,” Townsend said.

Driving in an unfamiliar area, using your cellphone and not watching the cues of the environment make drivers targets for carjackers.

AAA Mid-Atlantic suggests the following tips to be a less likely target:

  • Stay alert while filling up your gas tank at gas stations.
  • Don’t use isolated ATMs.
  • Don’t drive alone, especially at night.
  • Stick to well-lit areas. Avoid parking in unfamiliar territory or in dark places.
  • Don’t leave your vehicle running or your children unattended in it. “It is an invitation for a carjacker to steal your car and abduct your child,” said AAA Mid-Atlantic in a news release.
  • Don’t be fooled. “If a car bumps into the rear of your car, be cautious about getting out to inspect the damage. It might be a ruse. If an incident like this happens in a high-risk area, it would be safer to cautiously drive on to the nearest police station,” AAA Mid-Atlantic says.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect a correction in the numbers D.C. police issued on carjackings so far in 2018.

Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

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