By on November 18, 2013

Video contains NSFW language

“We can do this the easy way, or the hard way.”

My mind couldn’t comprehend the precipitant, nor the severity, of the situation. Psychologists often refer to this phenomenon as jamais vu, translated as “never seen.” I had sat in my car at a million stop signs before, but the pure fear of what I was experiencing made everything seem strange and unfamiliar.

“NOW, bitch!”

A dark, monstrous hand reached through the drivers’ side window of my 2005 Mazda 6 and quickly yanked the keys out of my ignition. In the midst of all the chaos, I remember thinking in a brief moment of clarity: is this really happening to me? My brain was finally beginning to catch up to fill in the blanks — I was being car jacked.


The year was 2008. I was in my hometown of Kernersville, North Carolina, visiting my family for the holidays. It was a few days after Christmas and I had plans to rendezvous with friends I had not seen since high school. The bar where we planned to meet was in Winston-Salem, about 20 minutes outside of the small town.

The night turned out to be exactly what I needed: a few drinks, good friends, and old memories of simpler life. It passed all too quickly. Before I knew it, it was time for me to call it a night. I remember the old gang playfully giving me hell for leaving so early, but I had to drive back to my parents’ house and I did not want any problems (especially with the police) on my way home.

Unfortunately, I have never manged to have any sense of direction and this night was no different. This was before the days of smartphones and GPS apps; I was totally on my own to get home, and the place I once knew so well suddenly seemed unfamiliar after dark. I was so turned around that I ended up in a very dangerous part of town, but even I didn’t know the severity of danger in would soon be in. I came to a stop sign in a desolate neighborhood that was bizarrely reminiscent of a Scooby-Doo ghost town. Some of the houses were uninhabited, their windows boarded up. I stopped at a stop sign and decided to put my car in park at this point to assess my situation and determine what to do next. Looking back, my lack of awareness of my surroundings was the biggest mistake I made that evening because shortly thereafter, total pandemonium arrived.

He had approached without warning as I sat there like bait on a hook, planning his attack. As he screamed at me to give him the keys, I realized that I had never prepared for this! There wasn’t a secret lesson in Drivers’ Ed or a survival handbook that was going to free me in this instance. Everything happened in blindingly quick fashion. The “jacker” swung my door open with such velocity I thought it might would come off the hinges. I never had a moment to regain composure, never had the chance to catch up to the reality of the moment, almost as though the entire event were taking place outside of the space/time continuum. Oddly enough, I remember having a rational, somewhat calm internal voice inside my head narrating the whole occurrence.

What happened next definitely made things VERY real and extremely petrifying for me. My attacker forcefully grabbed hold of my hair and, with one swift and forceful motion, yanked me out of the car. I instantly felt the cold, damp asphalt beneath my limbs as I tumbled into the street. Panic seized me; it occurred to me that I was about to be separated from my car. This made me feel instantly and completely vulnerable. As a woman, my car is essentially my form of protection; it is my shield from all the danger that lurks in the night. Without my car I am exposed, unprotected – I have no way to defend or safeguard myself. My car is my shelter from the unpredictable atmosphere surrounding me. My car is my weapon in the rare situation that requires me to fight back for my safety and survival. The narrator in my head was no longer calm. I was overwhelmed by sheer horror. I began to fear that he wanted more than my car from me. At 5’4″ and 105 pounds, I knew I had no chance of fighting him off, and feared that attempting to do so would agitate him even further.

His violent grasp of my hair never ceased, and as he half dragged me and I half crawled along the pavement, I watched the tail lights of my stopped Mazda 6 get seemingly further and further away. We were roughly two car lengths away when everything went hazy; the “jacker” had slammed my head into the street. When I finally came to some sort of consciousness I saw my taillights for what I thought would be the last time, glowing in the distance. Not only had he taken my car, he had also taken my purse and cell phone, leaving me utterly alone and without resources to get help. Not to mention the fact that I still had no idea where I was, leaving me completely and utterly abandoned.

I literally had no idea what to do next. I ran from door to door in the neighborhood, banging on doors, pleading and crying for help, but nobody would answer. Finally, an older Hispanic gentleman answered his door, but he spoke no English whatsoever. Somehow, through the tears and the terror, I managed to convey to him that I needed to use his phone. I called the police first, and then I called my parents. The gentleman who lived there, despite our language barrier, was incredibly kind. He offered me some water and sat with me until the cops arrived, which didn’t take long at all.

However, the two policemen that arrived weren’t doing anything like what I expected. In fact, they seemed much more interested in interrogating me than in pursuing my attacker. Why was I in that part of town? Who was I meeting there? Was I buying drugs? I began to fear that, in addition to having been brutalized and carjacked, I was going to be arrested as well. Two more police units showed up. More questions. Lots of standing around doing nothing.

“Are you looking for my car?” I asked, over and over. Nobody would give me a straight answer. I began to feel more and more alone and afraid as time went on and the police continued to treat ME like the suspect, not the victim.

Finally, after roughly 30 minutes, one of the original officers said to me, “We’ve got your car. We need you to come identify the thief.” An unusual combination of joy and dread filled my heart. I realized that my purse was still in the car. What if the jacker had looked at my drivers license? What if he knew my name and my address? I didn’t want to be the one responsible for putting him behind bars. But it seemed that I had no choice; if I wanted my car back, I would have to do as they asked.

I rode with the officer in the front seat of the cruiser for nearly five miles in total silence. When we arrived at the scene where the jacker had been stopped, I shrank down into my seat, trying my best to hide behind the dash.

“Is that him?” the officer asked me, pointing to a man seated on the curb, his hands cuffed behind him, his chin down against his massive chest. My God. He was huge. A wave of trepidation overcame me as I came face to face with my attacker for the second time that evening.

“Yes. That’s him.” It was like another voice was coming from my throat. I just wanted the whole thing to be over with.

But it wasn’t; not by a long shot. I was taken to the police department, where I had to fill out a police report that rivaled War and Peace for length. By the time I finished filling it out, it was nearly five o’clock in the morning. The police had retrieved my car, but I wasn’t allowed to take it; they had to dust it for fingerprints. They took my cell phone as evidence, and to this day, I have never gotten it back. Never once did anyone apologize to me for the way they initially treated me. Never once did anyone try to make me feel safe.

My parents finally arrived to take me home, but I couldn’t sleep. I kept replaying the nightmare over and over in my head. My world had changed in the span of just a few moments. The youthful illusion of invincibility was gone. The carjacker had taken much more than my car from me. He had taken my sense of safety.

At 10:00 AM, the police called. I could come get my car. When I got to the station, my car was still covered in fingerprinting dust. The sight of the carjacker’s fingerprints on my steering wheel made me shudder. My car was my personal space, and I felt violated knowing that he had been in that seat. Touched that steering wheel. Maybe even listened to the CD I had in the stereo. It was all I could do to stand there and watch as my mother cleaned the dust from the surfaces of the car.

That was five years ago. And yet, to this day, it has affected the way I live my life, and probably always will. I know now that I can be hurt. Violated. I avoid eye contact with everyone, especially derelicts. I breathe faster when I see someone approaching my car. I instinctively lock my doors every time I get within my car. I drive miles and miles out of my way to avoid sketchy neighborhoods. When I get to a destination such as a hotel, a restaurant, even at my apartment complex, if I feel ANY sort of uneasiness, I will sit and just wait. I have even waited as long as a half hour before I felt safe enough to walk from my car to my door. I try to take my dog with me anywhere I can and as often as possible; when she’s with me, I am safe. I do odd, cautious things that most men would never even consider doing, just so I can maintain some semblance of security.

Because of that night, I suspect everyone and I will question everything. Because of that night, I will always feel like I am a sitting target, easy prey. My car was returned to me, true, but the girl who drove that car, free from fear and cheerfully exploring the world around her, won’t be back for a long time to come.

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128 Comments on “The Truth About Caroline: Carjacked!...”


  • avatar
    jz78817

    just goes to show that the police are *not* your friends. They’re there to arrest *someone,* I doubt they cared whether it was you for “being where you shouldn’t have been” or him for stealing a car.

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      I can say that as the grandson of a Police Chief, most police officers are rather appropriate in thier response to a situation. Sure, there are a select few “bad apples that spoil a bunch” but those are rare and I challenge you to name a career that doesn’t suffer from that case.

      In this instance, I envision her scenario to take place in a similar area to where the Coast Guard placed my unit. It’s in the middle of a low rent/ high crime area that unfortunately forces LEO’s to make assumptions prior to actually finding out the real details. Young caucasian female in a high crime/drug laiden area? Why? Got lost? Likely story… heard it a million times by the meth-heads they arrest daily.

      They definitely should have apologized or at least comforted her after the thief was apprehended but for you (JZ78817) to say that police are only interested in arresting someone, anyone- is a HUGE stretch.

      It seems that you like to jump to conclusions, so allow me to jump to my own. Chances are, with that attitude toward LEO’s, you have either yourself been, or surround yourself with (in one respect or another)- people that have been on the “wrong side of the law”. No matter how much justification was attempted to explain why you (or they) were doing or why taking illegal action was the proper course, it made no difference. Your viewpoint is common among people that are often watched by the officers more carefully… on nobody’s merit but your own. Boils down to that age old addage “you made the bed, you lay in it.”

      • 0 avatar
        skakillers

        The difference (and the reason that your ‘few bad apples’ argument is totally invalid) is that there really aren’t any other careers/professions that involve carrying a gun and having a de facto right to use force against basically anyone and face greatly reduced consequences.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        “Sure, there are a select few ‘bad apples that spoil a bunch’ but those are rare and I challenge you to name a career that doesnt suffer from that case.”

        In the other professions the bad apples get fired because they aren’t protected massively powerful police unions. The “good” cops are there to, at the expense of taxpayers, enjoy high pay in a guaranteed for life job until they retire at 50. They are way too concerned with that gavy train to stand up against the rapists, thieves and murderes among them.

        The cops in this story would rather harrass a victim for a chance at a drug war bust than actually help the victim. The cops should appreciate the victim, since she pays their salary and they likely are not employable in the private sector. Definitely not at nearly as high pay.

        By the way, I have never been arrested and have not recieved a ticket in years. Just a concerned taxpayer observing the f*ck up cops my tax money pays.

      • 0 avatar
        Hillman

        +1. Young white women in a very bad area late at night is something a good cop should try to figure out. Based on the description, Insurance fraud, drugs, prostitution are as likely as her getting lost. People talk about good police work all the time and this is a very good example of finding why something occurred.

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          The only thing that would actually require a police report, insurance fraud, is something that, according to the author’s account, was not asked about.

          The cops were fishing for a drug bust, instead of focusing on the actual reported crime, because drug busts get cops promotions and police departments federal war on drug grant money. Who cares about serving citizens that are victims of actual crimes.

          Why should I expect cops to be anything other than people amorally purse their best interests (trying to get the glory of drug busts instead of serving citizens)? Fine, I agree. But then lets admit that’s what cops are. Just people selfishly pursuing their best interests. With guns. And very expensive police union funded defense attorneys. No deference. No assuming they are the good guys in any situation.

          Police don’t generally investigate insurance fraud. If insurance companies care about it they have to hire private investigators and pursue civil remedies. They do commit it: http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2011/07/la_sheriffs_deputies_insurance_fraud.php

          “A deputy new to the department was found guilty of driving his own vehicle out to a field, dousing it with ‘ignitable liquid’ and setting it on fire. When the car was traced back to the deputy, he filed a false police report, saying the vehicle must have been stolen from outside his house. (Because it would make so much sense for a car thief to immediately burn his bounty at the stake.)

          The deputy turned out to be quite the stupid (alleged) criminal: His insurance company soon discovered that his ‘car could not be driven without a transponder key,’ and his cell-phone records showed he’d been in the field, not at his father’s house, like he told investigators. Durr.

          ‘Faced with a discharge notice, the deputy elected to resign,’ reads the report. Just as well — a good law-enforcement officer should know his way around the skills of grand theft auto and arson, if only for background.”

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      I lived, worked and drove cars for many years in Mexico City and Moscow — two high crime cities. The first rules of self preservation are awareness and avoidance. Pay attention to what is happening around you and avoidance potentially dangerous situations. I always drive with my doors locked and windows up. I also keep pepper spray in the side door pocket of my cars. It may not help in every situation, but it’s better to have it and not need it.

    • 0 avatar
      azmtbkr81

      Ah yes, the predictably consistent monthly TTAC law-enforcement bashing thread…I’ve seen this movie and am beginning to tire of the re-runs.

    • 0 avatar
      Chainsawferret

      this almost happened to my wife and I one night. We were heading from St Louis to visit my folks for thanksgiving in NW florida, and had gotten off the interstate in Montgomery AL about 1130 at night. I was driving, while wife was reading something on her iPad (these were just out) when a guy at the end of the ramp saw the light from her screen and started shambling over towards us, with something shiny and metallic in his hand. I was driving, and a bit paranoid having lived in that part of Alabama years ago, and saw him coming. I just kept my eye on him and casually bumped it down into sport mode (were in the Mrs’s car, a 07 GTI 4 door) Fortunately there was no traffic because when he went for the back door handle I floored it. Situational awareness is the first and best line of defense. If something or someone looks strange, keep alert is the moral of this story.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    At least he left you there and didn’t take you with him where God-knows-what could have happened. Whatever happened to the thug? Let me guess, repeat offender.
    And just what part of town did you happen onto?

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Thankfully I’ve never been car jacked, successfully anyway. Had a close call at 6 mile and Woodward, but got away in one piece.

    I’ve had a few friends who have been car jacked or robbed in their cars at stop lights and stop signs, and one who was robbed on the roadside by a young woman playing bait and switch by faking a breakdown for a gang of unfavorable types.

    It’s their experiences that keep me vigilant. It’s too easy to become unaware of your surroundings when in your car. I’m sure I’ll get some heat from other Detroit area posters who insist that Detroit isn’t all THAT bad, but the red light/stop sign rule in certain parts of the city is true. Just make sure it’s clear and go.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m in the city of Detroit pretty frequently, almost daily, and even when I have something like an $80K Jaguar for a review I’m not afraid to drive within the city limits, but it pays to have situational awareness. Not long ago I was at the intersection of McNichols (Six Mile) and Greenfield going over to see a friend who lives near there. It was maybe 8 o’clock PM. I was at the crosswalk and a woman started to cross the street and stopped right in front of my car and started to dance. I was pretty sure that she was just drunk or really high, but I still started checking my mirrors and around the car to see if anyone else was approaching.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I woudln’t say I’m afraid either, but as you would say “situationally aware”. Even when gunfire erupted in a parking lot near Michigan and Grand River, I don’t think I was scared as much as “it’s time to leave now” even as the light was red.

  • avatar
    Travis

    Ok.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    .
    It’s a shame that we, as a society, tolerate the fact that there are some neighborhoods that you simply can’t enter–areas where the chances of this happening if you venture in are virtually 100%. This could be stopped with a few police stake-outs: Have a cop lie down in the back of Caroline’s car. As the jacker is speeding off, put his brains against the windshield.
    .
    .

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    Head on a swivel, run the stop sign. Almost got jacked in Baltimore (on Christmas Eve, no less), just ran the light. If you live in a state that allows it, consider getting a concealed weapons permit, especially as a woman.

  • avatar
    challenger2012

    This is a good opportunity to tell of another vehicle related crime. Last week, I was taken out to lunch, by a salesman. We went to an upscale restaurant. While there, his 4×4 quad cab truck, was broken into and 2 Laptops and a brief case were stolen. (This was all captured on video cameras at the restaurant; a black guy in a black car was the thief. But the license plate was not legible on the video.) The salesman had his cell phone hidden in the brief case. He tracked his brief case to a home in a bad part of town. He told police where the brief case was and asked if they were going to visit the home? The police told him they would get to it when they could. He told them, he was going to visit the home, if they didnt. (He was going to carry 2 hand guns with him.) The police did visit the home and got the 2 laptops back. (It turns out the police have been to this home before for the same thing) The thief took the computers to a guy (black) who resells them on e-bay. Why is the PC e-bay guy not charged with a crime? You have to know the PCs you take possession of are stolen to be charged. In the meantime, the brief case was tracked to another home of a guy (old white guy) who unlocks phones that later are sold on e-bay. The phone was recovered as well. Local gangs protect the e-bay re-seller houses, for a take of the profits, which makes monitoring these guys and the people who bring the Laptops and phones to them, difficult. The car thieves cruse the high end locations of town, for that is where the money is. Thus, park close to the hotel, restaurant, etc. and hide everything. The police are more concerned, as they should be, with murder, rape, etc. Pain in the ass crime takes a back seat. I would bet the PC guy and phone guy have been doing their thing for years, but are too small to bother with considering all that happens in a big city.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The inclusion of a race description limits your credibility.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Why? I am African-American, and I will freely admit that the reason so many other African-Americans are in jail in this country is that a huge amount of crime is committed by African-Americans. I also believe that this is due to poverty and lack of legit opportunity in many areas, but it is still the truth. While it COULD have been a white guy in a white car, it wasnt, and complexion is certainly an identifying feature.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I didn’t see how it applied to his commentary, or how it would have affected the general feel in any way. So it comes off as racist, and would discredit to many people.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            “I would not have guessed that you were black based upon previous comments Ive read from you!”

            Do you suspect that this statement might be considered a bit racist because it implies there is an expectation of how people of different races are supposed to act, talk, or what they are supposed to like?

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Depends if CoreyDL is also black :P

        • 0 avatar
          shaker

          I agree with your assessment – crime is basically the “have-nots” preying on the “haves”. In this country, the “have-nots” are overwhelmingly A-A or Hispanic.
          There are many reasons for this, but I would say that the rich are getting richer, and there are fewer crumbs for the rest of us, and we’re doomed to hoard and fight among each other for what’s left.
          Decent education, and jobs that offer a living wage would go a long way towards reversing this situation.
          There ARE bad people, mind you, and always will be, but many people just fall into a lifestyle because the alternatives are few.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            crime is basically the “have-nots” preying on the “haves”. In this country, the “have-nots”

            This is false. For the most part, the perpetrators and victims of violent crime are both poor.

            Slow economic growth and permanently high unemployment is a choice we have made. We prefer massive government, debt, regulation and welfare.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    “I ran from door to door in the neighborhood, banging on doors, pleading and crying for help, but nobody would answer. Finally, an older Hispanic gentleman answered his door . . . [He] was incredibly kind.”

    –Fortunately, you didn’t get shot while banging on people’s doors, like what happened in Dearborn recently. Thank you for sharing the harrowing experience.

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    I wonder how changing automotive technology, particularly proximity keys, would have affected this scenario?

    In the case with my or my wife’s 2012 model year cars, there would have been no key in the ignition for the carjacker to grab. So she could have sped off, situation over.

    If they had still pulled her out, since she’s a woman the key would likely be in her purse which is still in her car. But a man would have the key in his pocket so when he was pulled out the car would start beeping if the motor was still running (might even display a helpful message like “no key detected in car”). Would that alert the thief to get the key from him (which could make this incident worse), or would the thief drive off and then find out he can’t restart the car after he turns it off (a mistake he would likely make only once)? I’m sure the scumbags will figure this out.

    Another unrelated proximity key question. I’ve seen civil rights videos that tell you to lock the door behind you if you are ordered by police to get out of your car. OK, but with a proximity key the cop can unlock it simply by pressing the button while you are standing next to the car. And if the key is inside the car when you get out, you simply can’t lock it.

    So I’m kind of on the fence about this technology. Seems like it can make many situations better or worse.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      If somebody armed and or very dangerous wants my car badly enough they can have it; I’ve never owned a car worth dying or even being seriously injured over. If the thief wants to drive off and can’t because of the proximity key in my pocket I don’t really need a second encounter with him/them. The faster they drive off the faster the insurance company can buy me a new car.

      People who carjack are not stable, calm people. They are violent, dangerous and unpredictable. No gunshot or stab wound is worth a $1000 insurance deductible.

      BTW, a gun is not necessarily the solution even if you mange to shoot your attacker: if you shoot the assailant there is a good chance you will spend more than $1000 in legal fees to make sure your self-defense claim sticks. Cheaper to let the car go.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So was this story going to run today no matter what or is this a counterpoint to the story about the cop firing at a minivan?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      There’s no correlation. This was entered and scheduled first.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Thank you, Jack.

        Some might assume that if they were of the opinion (like me) that the officers were probably in the right in the “minivan fleeing suspect case” given what they knew at the time and the actions of the suspects.

        In Caroline’s carjacking one would hope that the police would be a little more compassionate and need a higher level of suspicion before grilling about why she was in that neighborhood.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    thankfully a good portion of this country, including NC, allows you to carry a weapon and defend yourself if needed. A gun is a great equalizer in these situations, and suddenly big bad man isn’t so big anymore.

    My 67 year old mother, all of 110lbs, maybe, carries here S&W where ever she goes. Any time I travel down there I make sure I have at least one gun within immediate reach. It’s an area that has completely fallen apart to social engineering and where people like us are constantly victimized.

    Same pretty much when I travel anywhere, as you never know where you might accidentally end up, and one reason why we don’t really vacation above the mason-dixon line.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      +1 AMC_CJ.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Given the author’s admitted mental state at the time, a weapon would not have helped her one bit. Rather, it isn’t the weapon itself that matters, it’s the preparation/training and mindset of how to properly act in the situation.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Pardon my lack of enthusiasm for guns as the answer in this situation.

      Call me whatever you want, but the US has more guns per person than any other industrialized nation, and (“yet?”) we have more people shot to death per capita than any other industrialized nation. Surprisingly, the abundance of gun-toting innocents doesn’t somehow deter everyone from ever shooting anyone. Or something like that.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        It’s not the answer. There is no answer. Choose for yourself. Others should have the same right.

      • 0 avatar
        zeus01

        Meathead: “Do you realize that last year alone over 10,000 Americans were killed by hand guns?”

        Archie: “Would it make ya feel any betta if they wuz all pushed outa winduz?”

        For once Archie was right. Sure, a dis-proportionate number of Americans are taken out by bullets. But I suspect the vast majority of those tend to be folks who chose a life of crime, and that most innocent folks who were murdered by perps with guns would have been murdered with knives, hammers, tire irons or their own scarfs and ties had guns not been available.

        The per-capita murder rate here in Canada is just as high as it is in the states. Only the weapons used have changed and even then, we still have gun crimes here because career criminals don’t obey gun laws. And we have no “stand your ground” legislation here. Perps love Canada and its hug-a-thug legal system.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          Nice argument, except your statistics are completely wrong. The per capita murder rate in Canada in 2011 was 1.6; the US in 2012 was three times higher at 4.8 (a 50 year low).

          If you compare urban areas, Toronto (population 2.5M) had 54 homicides in 2012, as compared with 500 in Chicago (population 2.7M).

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          @zeus01: “But I suspect the vast majority of those tend to be folks who chose a life of crime…”

          From the statistics I’ve seen, gub suacides are a huge chunk of the gun deaths here in thr USA. (I don’t remember if it’s 1/3rd or 1/2 at the moment.)

          The statistics, when looked at with BS detectors on, suggest that the presence of guns in the house have a small effect on the suicide rate, but a huge effect on whether or not those suicides are successful. The people why try to kill themselves with a gun succeed far more often than people who attempt suicide by other means.

          Now, how big of a problem is this? When I was a dumb kid, I in the camp of “hey, ending it is their decision” – but as I get older and wiser, and the more I learn about people who aren’t of sound mind, the more I think we need to get these people medical treatment.

          But, yeah, the story of guns and successful suicides is a huge part of this that nobody wants to talk about, because it ties in to a bunch of messy issues that are too complicated for pundits and sloganeering.

          Are murders mostly people who choose a life of crime? Donno, but it mattters a lot less than most people think, because big fraction of gun deaths are gun-suicides by someone living in the same home as a gun owner.

          I’m not going to take a position on the bigger debate, because I don’t want to feed any red/blue trolls – but the mental health of those under your roof is an important thing to cobsider when deciding if one should have guns at home.

  • avatar
    jupiter119

    Cops are just people trying to do a job. They will rarely be there when you need them the most(not because they don’t want to but because they don’t have the numbers to be everywhere) and their training doesn’t mean they’ll all become batman. Your right to feel cautious and take steps for your safety. Conceal carry laws are a good thing it’s just too bad people take gun rights away from people who would use them to defend themselves because no law would take the gun away from this carjacker unless he’s in jail.

  • avatar
    eunos

    Everyone’s going back and forth about law enforcement and concealed weapons so allow me to go off on a tangent:

    Nice article Caroline (although the subject matter was certainly harrowing). I enjoyed reading it and look forward to more from you. Hopefully happier tales though in the future!

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Thank you for sharing your experience Caroline. I am very sorry this happened to you and happy you survived. The little ones are often the toughest ones.

  • avatar
    redav

    I don’t understand–how does avoiding eye contact increase safety? Similarly, I occasionally hear of people who notice someone behind them but won’t look around to check.

    As best I can tell, such behavior doesn’t make anyone safer, just less aware.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Caroline, thanks for sharing your story. Sadly, the sketchy parts of Winston-Salem don’t look much safer then they were 10 years ago when I went to college there. Downtown W-S is better, but a few blocks east is still a disaster.

    Another angle- would anyone else on here not want the women in their life to drive a Porsche because of the location of the key on the outbard side of the steering wheel? Seems like that would make crimes like this even easier.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    The most valuable lesson to learn from Caroline’s ordeal is to keep your windows up and your doors locked. Always. No exceptions, ever. Fortunately, many modern cars automatically lock the doors as you start rolling. However, they won’t roll up the windows for you.

    “free from fear and cheerfully exploring the world” was an illusion, not reality. No place is completely safe. While some neighborhoods are less dangerous than others, the bad guys can and do drive to wherever they expect to find victims. Recently, in my city, a young woman much like Caroline was murdered during a carjacking. The crime occurred on the opposite side of town from the rough neighborhood where the perpetrators lived.

    Carrying a concealed firearm is an option if it can be done legally in the places you spend most of your time. However, there is more to it than just buying a gun. You need to learn to handle it safely and shoot it accurately especially in situations like a carjacking. You need to learn the laws about where you can and cannot carry and what constitutes legal self defense. (The laws about carrying are often illogical since they were enacted to pander to the illusions and phobias of non-gun people.) You need to practice regularly to maintain your skills. Your wardrobe will be limited by the need to keep your weapon concealed yet readily accessible.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    A writing suggestion: Watch your usage of adjectives ending in -ly. It was excessive in this posting.

    The worst offender was “I literally had no idea what to do next.” If you “literally” didn’t know, you’d of stood there in the street, doing nothing – because literally you had no idea. But you did have an idea, because immediately you ran door to door.

    • 0 avatar
      dastanley

      Would you care to contribute your own article on TTAC and show us how it’s done?

      Ms. Ellis allowed herself to be vulnerable and to relive her bad experience by sharing her story on TTAC. And all you can do is criticize her “usage of adjectives ending in -ly”? Really?

      I, for one, appreciate her taking the time and effort to contribute her experiences with TTAC.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Just because my response/comment to the article was a grammatical one, and not the emotional outpouring you may have preferred, does not make it less valid.

        I didn’t say “I don’t appreciate your article because of word choices.” It was a suggestion. Deal with it.

        • 0 avatar
          dastanley

          Frankly no response at all from you would have been more appropriate. Funny how your hysterical response seems to be an “emotional outpouring” of your own. And you’ve also demonstrated that you can dish out criticism but can’t take it. In your initial post, you also made a grammatical error of your own. Deal with it.

          Again, submit your own article and show us how it’s done smart guy.

    • 0 avatar
      Bark M.

      Be careful with your stones in your glass house, my friend. “You’d of?” Perhaps you meant “you’d\'ve” as in the contracted “you would have.”

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      Emotion heavily compromises rational thought. This is the kind of article that would benefit from being hammered out by an editor.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    It’s easy to say that she should have had her doors locked, windows up, never stop completely in a scary part of town, and I am sure she learned some lessons there too. But in a situation like that it isn’t always easy to judge the danger.

    My wife had a guy follow her and eventually actually chase her for about 45 minutes. Looking back at the course of events its easy to pick out details that should have alerted her, but she just thought she was being paranoid. At the point she realized he was truly after her, luckily she kept her cool and kept driving, alerting the police and having him arrested. There was no doubt that if she had gotten out of her car he would have attacked her. Now she is constantly on edge, like Caroline, her life is forever changed and she is always on the lookout, worried he will come back. Yes, she carries a gun now, but that doesn’t comfort her enough. In our case the police were extremely helpful and courteous to her, I have no complaints that they did everything they could to put him away that night. Unfortunately the rest of the justice system has not been as helpful, he still walks around awaiting trial and apparently is allowed virtual unlimited continuances.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    Sad that this stuff happens, but…to now drive miles and miles out of your way, to wait in the car for half an hour before you get out, etc…I dunno. Seems like an overreaction. Also not necessarily going to help you. I would rather have seen that you take steps to make sure you know how to get where you’re going before you set out. Sitting in the road or at the side of the road trying to figure out how to get un-lost is a loser, because looking at a map or fooling with a GPS unit or smartphone means you can’t be looking around for the approach of a bad guy.

    One of the first things they tell you about moving through sketchy environments is to move swiftly and purposefully, not wandering around aimlessly, because that’s like blowing a dog whistle to muggers, etc. This applies to driving as well as walking.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    When I first saw the headline I wondered if an angered commentator from her debut article had tracked her down.

  • avatar
    walleyeman57

    Back in the 70′s Detroit had a police sting operation going called STRESS -Stop The Robberies Enjoy Safe Streets.
    This unit had a lot of success. Their MO was to dress up policemen/women to look like old people, handicapped, and other vulnerable citizens and walk down streets where there had been a number of robberies. There was back-up of course and a number of criminals were not only caught-a few paid for their crimes with bullets when attempting to escape or confront said officers.

    The, cough cough, honorable Coleman Young ran for mayor on a platform that included the disbanding of this unit. He said that since most of the officers were white-and the crooks were black-that this was racial profiling and amounted to officers baiting people to commit crimes. Of course he won handily and this successful unit was disbanded.

    I would propose that we revisit this tactic. Perhaps a “lost” mom in her Lexus or an elderly man in his Crown Vic (sorry Panther lovers)could follow this pattern and result in not only arrests but put the fear of arrest into criminals who would target citizens.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Both the DPD and Wayne State University police Department have decoy units. Its not fishing for violent offenders like back in the day though. DPD and WSUPD have really stepped up their raids recently as well. I’m always suprised how well armed and aggressive the WSUPD are, but the university is in the middle of Detroit.

    • 0 avatar

      Bait cars are pretty common and used by a bunch of police departments, although they usually aren’t aimed at carjackers but rather at standard car thieves.

      There was an A&E show a few years back called “Jacked” that profiled the Newark (NJ) auto theft task force, and they would park an unlocked Audi A4 around. It had GPS, cameras, and remote controlled locks and a kill switch so they would wait for the thief to steal it and drive off, and then would shut the car down and lock him in it.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    TL;DR for this type of article.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Why comment?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Because I want to help the author improve her form, it’s meant as constructive criticism.

        I have a true story where I was hit and run @ 35 mph and called 911, I later found out after he outran me another unaware police unit pinched him but let him off with a speeding warning (and also the subsequent court story). When I first told the story my verbiage was probably similar to Caroline’s story posted above, however I noticed over the years with each retelling I leave out more minor details and the story shrinks and flows better. If you’re going to write a piece of fiction for this site, I could see it going into many paragraphs (if not acts). However most of the other non-fiction articles seem to have an informal limit, or maybe that’s just my perception. If you give your audience more than what they expect/than what is necessary your reader may give up or worse, form prejudices about your work.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      How could you say something so crass as a negative opinion about such an emotionally tumultuous article? You should be crying into a Kleenex, not considering the article’s validity!

      /sarc

      It drives me nuts when the general public renders a writing untouchable or not able to be criticized simply due to subject matter.

  • avatar
    HiFlite999

    Sorry this happened to Caroline. PTSD is not restricted to the military. There’s no shame in asking for help in dealing with the aftereffects of violence.

    Rule #1: It’s not the victim’s fault!

    Yes, certain precautions could have been taken, but there are no guarantees. I’ve only once had trouble in Detroit proper, but the closest I’ve come to getting mugged was in a hoity-toity ‘burb (Royal Oak). Closed windows can be smashed. The car can be blocked in by another. In one Detroit area incident recently, a group of cars was waiting for a train in broad daylight. A group came from behind and robbed the driver and his three passengers. They didn’t resist and handed over their money. The driver was killed by a shot to the head as the robbers walked away.

    Anyone’s life can be turned upside down in an instant, and anywhere.

    Sad, but true.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Royal Oak isn’t hoity-toity. It’s not crime ridden, but it is economically diverse. It’s not very racially diverse though.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I just may be too much of a dork, but when I hear Royal Oak I immediately think of HMS Royal Oak sunk by U-47 at anchorage on 14.October.1939.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Royal_Oak_%2808%29

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    I liked this article – but i will admit i found the timeline a bit hard to follow. So you stopped in a bad area with your windows open at night..? And the guy reached through and grabbed your keys. He then opened the door and yanked you out?

    Did I get that right? You kinda broke up your timeline for suspense and all.. which is cool. No offense but even as 6’4″ 210 pound guy I don’t drive around with my windows down, leave my car unlocked (Or go into park at a stop sign). I guess it’s a lesson learned for you.

    When I lived in St. Louis I remember a car jacking where they jacked some coed’s car – drove across the east St. Louis Bridge – raped her and dumped her body into the river.. I think she was at a Chilli’s..

    I don’t know why the cops in this story are getting so much flack though. I would have had the same thoughts as you explained your story. So you parked at this are of town at night – at a stop sign?!

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The cops are getting so much flack because they put solving imaginary drug offenses by a person that called the police over solving the actual robbery the police were called about.

      Putting imaginary drug crimes over the real crimes makes the cops opportunistic scumbags, but the incentives for that behavior come from high levels in the “war on drugs”.

      The federal government provides grants to police departments based on drug busts. It does not provide grants to police departments based on the number of auto thefts resolved.

      Also, police promotions come from drug busts (in large part because they get the police department grant money), not from helping taxpaying citizens get their cars back.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I don’t know, the cops came, they questioned her, they caught the suspect, had her positively ID him and arrested him, she got her car back and they actually did some amount of crime scene investigation since they checked the car for fingerprints. I assume she got her purse back since there was no mention of fear that he knew her address, and while she apparently never got the cell phone back, they did keep it for evidence to prosecute the crime, and maybe it got lost? Seems to me that the police did pretty much everything they were supposed to do aside from comforting her. But then again that’s not really their job, though in my wife’s situation they were extremely nice and comforting to her.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    No one will ever car jack you in a Panther.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      In Detroit, someone tried to carjack the police chief, IN A COP CAR! It was a panther, not the new sleds they just got in. Car jackers in Detroit like any BoF domestic iron. Pathers, B-bodies, GM/Ford SUVs, and RAM trucks are all coveted.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        So has Detroit become the wild west where a carjacker can freely ride around in a purloined police cruiser and nothing is done about them?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          600+ car jackings a year. The car jacker didn’t actually take the cruiser (he would have if not met by an angry off police chief), but it speaks to how brazen they have become.

          The east side of Detroit is worse than that wild west. No one is off limits and nothing is sacred. The police just raided an apartment building on the east side last Friday and made 30+ arrests. In one apartment building. They get six hundred 911 calls from that building a year. The only reason why crime isn’t worse, is that the city of Detroit isn’t as target rich as it used to be. People moved out.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        That is why I drove around Detroit in a never cleaned J body. I would avoid the interstates to get home, roll down woodward (from downtown) with the windows down and never have an issue.

        I can’t believe you guys think RO had crime. Perspective, I suppose.

        If someone wanted my car, I would have smiled, took my laptop bag and gladly walked home.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I don’t think RO is unsafe. I live in an adjacent, nicer suburb, and I enjoy going out to downtown Royal Oak. Bar fights, DUIs, and other alcohol inspired crimes seem to be the only crime that happens there. After living in the Cass Corridor for awhile, Nogales seemed pretty safe.

          When I lived in RO and worked in Detroit, no one ever attempted to steal my Kenmore White Achieva. They could have had it if they really wanted it.

          • 0 avatar
            HiFlite999

            I didn’t intend to imply that R.O. is unsafe, in fact the opposite. However, even that “safe” environment is not a guarantee of safety.

            Driving crappy cars is also no guarantee against being ‘jacked. A couple of friends were in a Escort wagon for a carjack attempt; they managed to get away after running over the would be thief. In fact, the opposite may be true. BMWs et. al. are more likely to have trackers or other electronic countermeasures, plus stealing from rich people is more likely to get one caught than from poor.

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          Detroit can change block by block, though. I’ve never really felt unsafe on Woodward, but once took a wrong turn into a bad part of Brush Park in the ’90s and got some serious “you don’t want to be here” looks from the homeless guys on the street.

          (And before anyone asks, I wasn’t a green suburban kid in Detroit for the first time; I went to high school in the city and worked at the medical center at the time.)

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Stories like this make me think of how safe I’ve felt being in major cities in Asia. The worst neighborhood in Seoul or Beijing is probably safer than the richest gated community in the DC area.

  • avatar
    Hemi

    I rarely comment and have been reading this site for a longggg time. Whatever happened to the truth about cars? Almost every fucking article is either police bashing, arguments about guns, politics and other stupid shit. Am I the only person that comes here to read about cars? To relax and unwind, reading about what we all love, CARS! I could go to copwatch.com, ar15.com, world star hip hop if I wanted to read about all this other nonsense. Also bring back Doug Demuro!!!!

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    One thing that’s interesting—and this is not in regard to what the officers said—is that women will often be blamed for situations in which they are harmed by men. “What were you doing in a sketchy neighborhood?” “Why didn’t you lock your doors?” “Why weren’t you carrying pepper-spray?”

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    As a white guy who has lived in a mostly African-American neighborhood , I can tell you there is quite a reverse racism , blame the victim attitude on the part of the local police . After calling police to report burglaries , another time a guy fleeing the police crashing thru my fence the police have responded , more than once with comments such as ” It’s your fault for living here ” , or ” what do you expect in this part of town ? ” or the worst , some undersized prick Hispanic cop shouting at me ” What are you doing to cause this ? ” My response to this was ” What are you implying , that I’m selling drugs or running hookers or what ? ” Hispanic cop’s response . ” You tell me , which is it , are you selling drugs or whores ?” And this isn’t a ghetto , but a solidly middle-class, pretty quiet neighborhood , mostly retirees , just happens to be majority Black .

  • avatar
    Aquineas

    Sheesh that must have been terrifying in a way I can only imagine. Thank goodness it didn’t turn out worse than it did.

  • avatar
    troyohchatter

    From the article: “…..I can be hurt. Violated. I avoid eye contact with everyone, especially derelicts. I breathe faster when I see someone approaching my car. I instinctively lock my doors every time I get within my car. I drive miles and miles out of my way to avoid sketchy neighborhoods. When I get to a destination such as a hotel, a restaurant, even at my apartment complex, if I feel ANY sort of uneasiness, I will sit and just wait. I have even waited as long as a half hour before I felt safe enough to walk from my car to my door. I try to take my dog with me anywhere I can and as often as possible; when she’s with me, I am safe. I do odd, cautious things that most men would never even consider doing, just so I can maintain some semblance of security.”

    As a member of the military we go through personal security training annually and this is almost word for word out of the training. I am sorry that prior to your attack you were not thinking like this. Everyone should be vigilant at all times.

    The article states in so many words that men wouldn’t understand, as if my penis makes me immune to the effects of a gun, knife, or even a well sized violent attacker. I am 46 with a trashed back and left side, I am NOT a threat. The honest truth is that this guy, in most cases, could have done this to anyone, regardless of size or gender, and that is even more true if he had a weapon. Word to the wise, it can happen to anyone.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Nice article Caroline, thanks for sharing. Glad you came out of it with only minor injuries.

    I would suggest however, that your current excessive caution (if not exaggerated) may not be helpful. Eye contact is a plus, you are less likely to be attacked by someone with whom you’ve made eye contact. Also, body language is important, you need to carry yourself confidently. Criminals are predators and seek out easy prey. Perhaps you should try a self defense class. Many focus on these things and situational awareness.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is HOW YOUNG she would have been five years ago. As a father of daughters, they often do not see the world in the jaded way that those of us in middle-age can, until experience becomes a teacher.

    The gun/self-defense recommendations all have value, but the single most important thing to teach is definitely situational awareness. You are not safe in a car that is not moving. So, if you break down on a highway, you’re a lot safer hiding near your car than sitting there as target-under-glass. If someone grabs your door handle or gets out of a stopped car behind you, run the intersection. Many women are taught by society (I welcome other opinions to this obvious generalization) to be compliant, not to be rude, to reply when spoken to. These kinds of reactions can be taught, and it can save lives.

    When sitting in my future wife’s car, at a stoplight in a slightly-lost situation, late at night, we had a car window suddenly go down and someone screaming “HEY” on our right. Pretty abandoned area, so I kept demanding that she run the light. “But I can’t do that…”. Turns out the person was just aggressively panhandling, but it could have cost us.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    I know the feeling. My house got robbed a few years ago. They took everything except clothes/furniture/kitchen stuff. So I know the feeling. And yes, the cops were positively useless as usual. They came in, knocked on a few doors, asked some questions, filed a report and left. Normal, right? I couldn’t go back into my house for 5 days because finger-printing guy was supposed to come in. He showed up after about a week, took about 30 mins, discovered nothing and left. And it took me about several days to track the detective who was on my case down to tell him everything. And I had to chase him down for every conversation afterwards so I gave up quickly.

    I do agree that cops just don’t care enough about this stuff when there are juicier things going on. 8 apartments at my condo got robbed over the next year, most likely by same guy. Our condo association did absolutely nothing but changed the keys once because they apparently had bigger fish to fry too (lazy cheap bastards).

    But after this incident my thinking of cops went completely down the drain. I’m just surprised the didn’t shoot the victim just in case.


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