BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A woman and her daughter were unloading groceries from their vehicle when two armed teens approached.

The 57-year-old woman told reporters, “The kid stopped and looked at me and my daughter, looked at me and I said, ‘Oh God.’ Within 20 seconds the kid walked up and pulled a gun out on us.”

Sadly, the incident above, which was reported by Newsweek, is a reflection of many similar carjackings crimes that appear to be increasing in occurrence across major U.S. cities.  

Carjacking is when a criminal uses force or intimidation to steal a driver’s vehicle.

According to CNN, because the FBI’s crime reporting system doesn’t track carjackings, a comprehensive national report that would reveal exactly how many carjackings occurred in the U.S. in 2021 is unavailable.

But cities like New Orleans are releasing data that indicates an extreme spike in carjacking cases since the pandemic began. 

According to one source, in 2021, a total of 281 carjackings were reported in New Orleans. This is 105 more than what was reported in 2018.

Additionally, figures from January 2022 showed that carjackings have tripled from the same month in 2021.

Baton Rouge, also known as a city with a high crime rate, is a mere 81 miles from New Orleans and capital area residents may be concerned about their own safety when it comes to carjackings. 

So, what can a person do to avoid being victimized? 

Tulane University recommends the following safety tips:

  • If it can be avoided, do not travel alone when it is dark. The majority of carjackings occur between the hours of 10:00 P.M. and 2:00 A.M.
  • Always keep your car doors locked…day or night.
  • Park your car in well-lit areas that are within sight and shouting distance of others.
  • Always try to park near an entrance, particularly if you will be leaving it for an extended period of time.
  • Whenever you think you may be in a vulnerable situation, carry pepper spray in your hand.
  • If some vehicle “bumps” or tries to signal you that there is something wrong with your car, drive to a populated area such as a gas station before stopping. This is a common technique used by carjackers to get you to stop your car in an unsafe area.
  • If you know you will be traveling in unfamiliar areas, map out your route before leaving. Stay on highways instead of side streets.
  • Always check your car’s back seat and underneath the car before entering.
  • If your car breaks down, wait for a police officer to help. Ask, through a tiny opening in your window, to see the officer’s credential.
  • Never accept help from anyone in an unmarked car.
  • Keep an adequate amount of distance in the front and rear of your car when stopped at a traffic signal. If an emergency occurs, you may be able to maneuver your way out of a dangerous situation.
  • When possible, travel in the middle lane.
  • Once you have parked your car, keep the motor running so that you may check out the area surrounding your car as well as the route you will travel to reach your destination.
  • If you have a garage, use it and remember to lock your doors upon exiting even though you are at home.

The university adds, “It is estimated that nearly half of all carjackings occur while the driver is waiting at a traffic signal or stop sign. Another common place for these incidents is parking lots or garages.”

This reiterates the importance of keeping vehicle doors locked while traveling, having a cell phone ready on your person, and remaining alert at all times. 

Click here for more information on vehicle theft protection from the U.S. Department of Transportation.