Carjacking

From Academic Kids

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Carjack.jpg
Dramatised carjacking

Carjacking is the crime of motor vehicle theft from a person who is present. Typically the carjacker is armed, and the driver of the car is forced out of the car at gunpoint. The word is a portmanteau of car and hijacking.

The crime is extremely hazardous to the physical safety of both the carjacker and victim. The victim may be able to outmaneuver the carjacker and run over him. To secure compliance, the carjacker may shoot the victim or physically push the victim out of the driver's seat without ensuring that the victim has fully separated from the vehicle. In turn, many people have been entangled in their seat belts or the front grille, and were then dragged to death.

In the United States, a law was passed in 1992 making carjacking a federal crime, amid a large amount of media attention on an apparent rash of carjacking thefts, several of which resulted in homicide. This was criticized by Libertarians and states' rights activists who noted that the control of crime is a matter for the states and not the federal government, and opined that carjacking was only made a federal crime in order to make some incumbents appear tough on crime to gain votes.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that in about half of all carjacking attempts, the attacker succeeds in stealing the victim's car. It estimated that between 1987 and 1992, about 35,000 carjacking attempts took place per year, and between 1992 and 1996, about 49,000 attempts took place per year. Carjacking has become more frequent over the years due to sophisticated devices and computer systems aimed at preventing and discouraging traditional motor vehicle theft.

Carjacking is also a notable problem in South Africa, and there are warning signs telling people that certain areas are hot-spots. There were 16,000 carjackings in one year (18 times the American rate, per capita), and these result in about 60 murders a year. Some drivers in South Africa have gone to extreme measures; fitting anti-carjacking devices to their automobile, which could shoot flames sideways from under their car, as well as developing the habit of not stopping on red-light in certain suburb areas.

Video games such as the Grand Theft Auto series and Mafia feature carjacking as part of the gameplay, which has attracted criticism from public figures for its possible influence on children's behaviour.

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