If one is involved in a minor fender-bender accident, the natural instinct is to get out of the car and survey the damage. But it turns out that car thieves are exploiting this tendency to deliberately rear-end people’s vehicles and then taking the car keys and stealing the car from them when they exit the vehicle. Cleveland has seen such incidents and as result, the local police in my suburb have put out guidelines as to what to do if you are rear-ended.
Because of recent incidents involving bump and run car thefts, many residents have asked us to provide suggestions regarding personal safety. Since there is often a difference between a bump and crash, it’s important to distinguish between the two. A bump is an intentional diversion to get your attention, but not cause damage. A crash is unexpected by either party involved, and likely to result in noticeable damage.
In either case, here are some tips:
– Always know your location when driving.
– Don’t be in a rush to get out of your car when something happens.
– Check your rearview mirror to see who’s behind you. If a passenger gets out instead the driver, or multiple people get out of the car, this may be a warning sign.
– If something seems irregular – stay in your vehicle, lock your doors, and call 911.
– If you don’t feel safe — leave the scene and call 911 safely from another location.
– Drive to a populated area, and if safely possible, advise police of the vehicle description and license plate.
– Signal the other driver to follow you, and do not pull over unless many people (witnesses) are in the area.
– Drive to the nearest police station, fire station, patrol car, or well-lit gas station or shopping area.
– If you get out of the car to exchange information, assess damage, take your wallet, purse, cell phone, and stay alert. Consider taking your keys with you when exiting the car.
– If weapons are present in a confrontation, run from the vehicle and contact police. Never allow a potential auto theft to elevate to a hostage situation. Personal safety is more valuable than the car or personal property.
Not every small crash will become a crime, but having a plan and thinking about your safety in advance may help keep you safe.
This looks like good advice but I hate having to be suspicious of people and always be on my guard. But it seems to becoming necessary in an increasing number of areas of our lives.