Carjacking refers to a robbery of a victim's vehicle by force, threat or intimidation. The Arlington County Police Department encourages motorists to remain aware of their surroundings when you stop at traffic signals, enter and exit your vehicle or are inside an idling vehicle. With awareness and planning, you can reduce your risk of a carjacking offense.

Before You Go

  • Select a safe route — choose well-lit and well-traveled streets.
  • Have an alternate route in mind in case of problems.
  • Keep your vehicle in good repair and be aware of your fuel level — always keep your tank at least half full.
  • Travel with a friend, when possible..
  • Keep your doors locked and windows up.
  • Keep valuables out of view.
  • Keep your car key or fob separate from your house keys.
  • Don’t leave items with your home address in the vehicle.

Getting There

  • Be aware of activity around you, especially people on foot near your vehicle.
  • Be suspicious of people approaching your vehicle unsolicited.
  • If someone asks for assistance (stalled vehicle, etc.), don’t get out of your vehicle. Go to a safe location and call the police.
  • Travel in the lane closest to the center of the road whenever legally possible.
  • Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and other vehicles to allow yourself a way out.

Upon Your Arrival

  • Park in busy, well-lit areas.
  • Be aware of your surroundings before turning off your engine and exiting your vehicle.
  • If in doubt, don’t get out of your vehicle — drive away and park someplace else. Report any suspicious or criminal behavior to the police immediately.
  • When exiting your vehicle, turn off the engine, lock your vehicle and take your keys or fobs with you — even for brief errands.

Returning to Your Vehicle

  • Be aware of persons loitering near your vehicle.
  • Be aware of any tampering to your parked vehicle. If you think your vehicle has been tampered with, don’t get in it and notify the police immediately.

What to Do in a Carjacking Situation

  • Keep in mind that resisting or attempting to flee may place you in great danger. Your personal safety — not your vehicle’s potential loss — must always remain your primary concern!
  • Since carjackers often display or threaten with a firearm and can inflict serious injury or death, submit to the carjacker and surrender your vehicle to decrease your risk of personal harm.
  • Notify the police immediately and provide as much detail as possible regarding the incident such as the incident location, suspect(s) description, vehicle information (make, model, color, license plate) and direction of travel the suspect was last seen fleeing in.