By Nick Arestopoulos
I live in North East Oak Park and there have been quite a few burglaries and carjackings lately. This may have to do with the mild weather, the difficulty in stealing already parked and secured cars, or just young people who are misguided doing stupid things for the thrill of it.
Either way, being in the situation is very scary and potentially life-threatening. Often weapons are used to intimidate and scare victims to give up their belongings. The purpose of this article is not to encourage you to fight back, it is to help you avoid the situation altogether.
Rather than giving you tips I'm going to outline a methodology on how to avoid bad situations in general.
First, you need to start thinking like a criminal a little bit. Think about what a criminal needs to successfully pull off a crime and then do your best to take away what they need. That is to minimize the time that you are vulnerable in that scenario.
For a carjacking, one of the first things a criminal needs is to be able to approach you and your car without you noticing them and without you being able to get away. They need your car to be stopped and the keys nearby.
The easiest way to stop them is at the very beginning. That could be to just drive around your block a couple of times and survey your home and surrounding area to see if someone or something does not belong. If you see something suspicious or out of place you can drive away and come back with help, neighbor or police officer.
If someone is already approaching your car, again what they are trying to do is separate you and your car and the keys. Even if they have a weapon, your best option is to drive away. Not all criminals are benevolent, they may think they can get away if they remove you as a witness.
Although there are no guarantees and no one is 100% secure, what you need to do is minimize the time that you are vulnerable.
The time that you are vulnerable is when the keys are out of the ignition but you are near the car and not quite in your home yet. Chances are you will not be able to fend off someone younger, stronger, more athletic, and armed. At that point you are better off just giving them the car keys and making sure you and your loved ones are not harmed.
Now it becomes very clear that one of your most vulnerable times is when you've gone grocery shopping and you are making trips in and out of the house. This would be a good time to have multiple people helping you with this task to deter would-be criminals.
This is pretty much the best you can do to avoid the situation altogether. I hope this helps and get you thinking about how you and your family could be safer.
Thank you for reading and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.