Friday, December 1, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured photo: Gabriel Law Team
Carjackings are on the rise across Cook County, according to recent reports, prompting some local law enforcement officials to raise awareness on how motorists can protect themselves.
In nearby Oak Park, police have organized two meetings on Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 in response to two attempted carjackings that took place within an hour of each other in the suburb.
In Forest Park, according to a recent Forest Park Review report, auto thefts are at a four-year high. As of Nov. 16, there have been 54 reports of auto theft in Forest Park. Four of those thefts were by carjacking, or the use of physical force or threat of force to steal a vehicle.
In Maywood, according to Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley, there have been three reports of carjacking so far this year (as of Dec. 1), but Talley said he suspects that number could rise over the holiday season.
In the meantime, he said he’ll raise awareness through the village’s quarterly newsletter and at Maywood Alternative Policing Strategies meetings.
“Around Christmas, people like to be quick about mailing letters and packages and they’ll run out of the car without thinking about security measures,” Talley said. “So people should be cautious, not only for the holidays, but after the holiday season.”
Talley said that Maywood could be affected by the recent uptick in carjacking incidents in Chicago. According to a recent Chicago Tribune report, Chicago police recorded 666 carjackings in 2016, the most since 2009 and roughly double the 339 that happened in 2015. This year, as of Oct. 18, there have been over 660 carjackings in Chicago — “nearly equal to all of 2016 and a 44 percent spike from the same period a year ago,” the Tribune reports.
“This is just one of the new trending crimes going on around the country,” Talley said. “It’s not just happening in Oak Park or Chicago. Naperville was hit hard recently as well, from reports I read. This is negatively affecting all of our communities.”
Talley said that he recommends that residents not leave their cars running or unlocked, even when at gas stations. Turn the car off and take the key out, he said.
“A lot of the carjackings in Chicago have been when people had their children in the car,” Talley said. “They’ve left the car running with the children inside. That’s not good.”
According to Global Security Experts, an international security consultancy, the following tips can be implemented to prevent carjacking and to protect yourself if you happen to be a victim of the crime (visit their website here):
- Be suspicious of anyone sitting in a nearby car.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for a store security guard to walk you to your car.
- Teach your children to pay attention to their surroundings when entering and exiting a vehicle.
- If someone tries to approach you, run away or retreat back into the building from which you came.
- Always be cautious and look around the outside of your car, under it, and inside before entering.
- Avoiding parking near walls, bushes, dumpsters, and other surroundings that someone can hide behind.
- Be aware of individuals handing out flyers, selling candy or merchandise in and around parking areas.
- If you plan to arrive or leave a place after dark, park in areas that you know will be well lit at night.
- Make sure you are not being followed and always look around as you load shopping bags and other goods into your car.
- Get into the habit of swiftly entering your vehicle, locking your doors, starting your engine, and driving away as quickly and safely as possible.
- If you’re a woman, use valet parking whenever possible. Only supply the valet with the vehicle key. Take all other keys with you when exiting the vehicle.
- Always drives with your car doors locked.
- Listen to your instincts. If you sense something is not right, flee the area.
- Do not argue with the perpetrator. Give up your keys and/or other personal items as demanded.
- Avoid driving with your windows down in areas where you have to make frequent stops at lights and intersections.
- If you are carjacked, immediately call the police! Do not try to follow the carjacker, as you could be hurt or killed!
- When in traffic, if possible, attempt to leave room between your car and the car in front you so as you can quickly drive away if approached by a criminal.
- If an individual bumps your vehicle from behind with his own car, be suspicious. Wave for him to follow you to a heavily populated area or local police station.
- Never willingly get into the car with the carjacker, no matter what he says. If you do, it may be your last ride ever. Just throw your keys, run and yell for help.
- Record your vehicle identification number and license plate number on a piece of paper and keep it with your driver’s license. In the case of a carjacking, both the police and insurance company will require this information. The quicker you can provide it to them, the better. VFP
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