Alarming Email from MPD – “Avoid Being Carjacked”

Sent to the MPD-5D Listserv without any other context:

“Reducing Your Risk of Becoming a Victim

When you are on the road:

ALWAYS keep your doors locked and windows rolled up (if it’s hot and you don’t have air conditioning, roll them up at least part-way) no matter how short the distance you’re traveling or how safe the neighborhood.
Drive in the center lane to make it harder for potential carjackers to approach the car.
AVOID driving alone. Travel with someone whenever possible, especially at night.
When you are coming to a stop, leave enough room to maneuver around other cars, especially if you sense trouble and need to get away.
Always drive with the doors locked. If a thief can’t get in your vehicle, you stand a better chance of leaving with it.
DON’T stop to assist a stranger whose car has broken down. You can help instead by driving to the nearest phone (or using your cell phone) to call police for help.

Getting Out of Your Vehicle

Park in well-lighted areas, near sidewalks or walkways. AVOID parking near dumpsters, large vans or trucks, woods, or anything else that limits your visibility.
NEVER leave valuables out in plain view, even if the car is locked. ALWAYS put them in the trunk or out of sight.
Try to park in a garage with an attendant. Leave only the ignition key, with no identification.
Even if you’re rushed, LOOK AROUND before you get out and STAY ALERT to the surroundings.
Always trust your instincts. If the situation doesn’t “feel right,” get away.”

32 Comment

  • Definitely sounds pretty alarmist.

  • These are all the tips I use to avoid street panhandlers.

  • MPD advice on avoiding street crimes: Stop using the street.

    I’m really tired of MPD circulating “tips” which amount to an admission that they can’t maintain order. Avoid driving alone, people. Keep your windows rolled up.

    • I tried to say something similar, but I was snarky about it, so I got deleted.

      But I am ALSO tired of hearing about how I’m supposed to keep myself safe, when the uniformed people whose job it is to keep us all safe are strictly reactionary, and seem to engage in very little pro-active policing. Beat-walking is VERY effective! Let’s try it! Just for a while? Please?

    • brookland_rez

      LOL at avoid driving alone. Yeah right.

    • Yes, the police should protect us to the extent that we are absolved of all personal responsibility. I personally wish that I could walk down a dark alley at night counting hundred dollar bills and not get mugged. Alas, they would probably advise against that too. Do your jobs, Cops!!!!

      • *sigh* I do not understand the appeal of deliberately mischaracterizing another person’s statement. Do you WANT to appear unintelligent? I understand that your intent was to make U Street Resident appear unintelligent, but please know that it backfired on you, big time. I guess that’s the advantage of posting as anonymous, hm?

        • I don’t get it. Why is it OK for U Street Resident to deliberately mischaracterize the MPD statement but it’s not OK for Anon 3:10? That’s BS. As is your jab about posting as anonymous, which you are also doing BTW. Using ‘wdc’ doesn’t actually count as identifying yourself.

      • +1
        I wish I could leave my vehicle unlocked with the keys in the ignition for safekeeping. It’s so irritating to have to worry about carrying around keys with outfits that don’t have pockets!

  • Drive in the “center lane”? This must have been lifted directly from Loudon County.

    • Right? I thought the center lane was the passing lane. How can the MPD be encouraging all drivers to use the center lane at all times. This is such bullshit.

  • DO NOT go outside.

    DO NOT interact with other human beings.

  • brookland_rez

    Drive without rolling down the windows? Sounds pretty extreme to me. I just keep an eye out for sketchy characters when I’m stopped at lights, etc.

    • I never understand why so many people drive with the windows down. Mine are always up — not for safety reasons, but because the fumes in the air coming in from outside give me headaches. (For the same reason, I always have the A/C set to recirculate rather than bring in air from the outside.)
      I guess most people must not be affected by the fumes.

      • brookland_rez

        I like the windows down if it’s nice outside, like in the spring or fall. With how clean modern cars are, I don’t really smell any fumes.

  • Are the police seriously suggesting I not go outside in my car alone? This is just enraging.

  • Ha. This is nearly word for word the advice on driving issued to expats in East Africa. I am now prepared for you, DC!

    • I was waiting for the “proceed through red lights at night if the intersection is deserted” advice so I’d know they’d taken it from South Africa!

      Between this email and the email they sent out last winter that was basically “don’t go out alone after dark” I sometimes wonder if MPD is aware that people in this town sometimes have to travel to their places of employment.

  • well, as a woman who was car-jacked in broad daylight on a hot summer day, i think these tips are worth repeating. especially the one about looking around before getting out of your car. that’s the one thing i didn’t exactly do. i was in a hurry and didn’t notice the bad dude coming my way. don’t do that. always look around before exiting your car.

  • 1) ALWAYS keep your doors locked and windows rolled up
    5) Always drive with the doors locked

  • They missed the most important method for avoiding carjacking – drive a stickshift.

    However let me add my voice to the chorus of outrage about these recommendations. What about those of us who live alone? Am I not allowed to function?

    • Or, a car2go. Who wants to steal one of those?

    • I hate that! I have a friend who always says “be careful, don’t walk home alone!” How can I possibly get to my home in that situation, only go out my neighbors? Do you really think it’s better for me to pick up a random dude and take him home than to walk there myself? Also, that totally doesn’t work if you live alone, but aren’t single.
      They way people casually throw that around drives me crazy.

      • +1.
        Maybe Uber will come out with a “Walk You Home” service?? Until then, that advice just isn’t applicable in most situations.

    • +1 Drive a stick shift. Love it!

  • The advice about leaving enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you is good. I was taught you should always be able to see the tires of the car in front of you.

  • Not to defend DCPD, but these are all ideas to keep you safe, albeit excessive. This is better than some halfassed list that didnt make you at least thing of these things.

    • +1
      Agreed. I think the take home point here in valuable– That you need to be aware of your surroundings and aware of how crimes occur so you can hopefully avoid being a victim. Obviously a lot of the tips in and of themselves aren’t really practical.

      • With them being so impractical, I bet a lot of people will dismiss the whole list as coming from a PD that is out of touch/delusional. Whereas if it was to say “We’ll try our best to keep you safe, but we don’t always see everything. While we know you have stuff to do and can’t just stay inside 24/7, you can play a large part in your safety as well. To help us out, try such things as: leaving a bit of a buffer between you and the car in front of you in case you have to maneuver away; not leaving doors unlocked when they don’t have to be; not stopping to help strangers if you are alone.”
        They would have my attention from that sooner than they would by saying that I should use a dremel to get rid of my door handles…

  • It has all the hallmarks of busy work given to a summer intern.

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