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CRIMETRACKER: Women often become victims of carjackings and car theft

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 10:15 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Just filling up your tank could lead to trouble in a matter of seconds.

“A lot of people don’t realize this could happen to you,” says a recent victim.

“Carjackings are happening when you come to the pump. Most of us leave our keys in the car, and they jump in and take off with it,” says Peggy Bishop.

Carjackings, car thefts and burglaries are unfolding in the middle of the day, sometimes at the pump. Other times, leaving a store or at your front door.

“Their timing was on point,” says a victim.

The victims of these crimes are often women.

“I was in Waveland, Mississippi when I saw the footage and I went Holy God, that’s my gas station around the block,” says Karen Cassanova.

“I had locked my vehicle when I was getting gas,” says a victim.

Just as this woman was paying at the pump, a Honda SUV quickly drove up. The victim says what appeared to be a teenager jumped out and tried to open her passenger side door, but it was locked.

“The driver had a gun, and they took off real quick,” says the victim.

But, they didn’t leave. Instead, they simply pulled around to the next pump where another woman was pumping gas.

“I held my hand on my horn, and tried to alert the other female that somebody was trying to get into her vehicle,” says the victim.

The gunmen took off, empty handed.

So far this year, women were victims of attempted auto theft 57 percent of the time.

“Maybe we don’t generally have guns on us. I’ll give you my purse. I will not fight with someone,” says Peggy Bishop.

“It’s scary. It’s scary for my daughters,” says Cassanova.

At the same gas station on Canal Street, days later, a woman walks to her vehicle to pump gas when a black car pulls in, backs up and someone gets out.

At first, it’s unclear what’s going on, but eventually, the front seat passenger of the black SUV hops into the woman’s white car and takes off in it.

A gas station worker says it happens quick, and often times, he has no idea until the victim runs in for help.

“It makes women want to start carrying a gun. I hate to say that,” says Cassanova.

So far this year, more than 620 women have had their vehicles stolen.

“They pulled up, pulled out guns. The guy hopped out and jumped into the front seat,” says a victim.

It was a terrifying experience for a victim, especially because her child was in the back seat.

“My daughter said, mommy, he’s got a gun,” says the victim.

The gunman, instead of carjacking the woman, grabbed her purse off the front seat and took off.

“They have to be watching, evaluating, going through neighborhoods and targeting these easy targets as they say,” says the victim.

When it comes to attempted armed carjackings, women are the victims 63 percent of the time.

Women are victims 73 percent of the time for attempted unarmed carjackings.

“The guys jumped out a car that was passing and took her out of the car. They ran over her with her own car,” says a witness.

Police say a 13-year-old snatched a 73-year-old woman’s purse at North Dupre and Toulouse, carjacked her and when the woman tried to stop him, he ran her over.

“She was complaining about her hip. She had bleeding from her forehead area and both legs were chewed up,” says the witness.

“It’s sad, and it’s scary,” says Justin Brown.

Justin Brown is a former NOPD officer, but has been on both sides of the law.

Now, he offers criminal justice advice on Instagram through ‘Empower You NOLA’. Brown believes women are often victims because they’re easily distracted, and may be unaware of their surroundings.

“We have to change the way we think. We have to change the way we act, and the way we move. We have to do it, so we won’t be victims,” says Brown.

Brown points out, the criminals are brazen. They’ll strike anywhere, anytime, so something as easy as stopping to pump gas, should be thought out.

“From me being a former SWAT team officer, you have to plan this out like it’s a SWAT roll. You have to get to your gas pump. You have to have your keys in your hand, lock your doors and through all of this, you have to be aware of your surroundings,” says Brown.

“Sometimes, I feel uncomfortable, and I will go inside to pay,” says Vicki Langenstein.

“I have my keys in my hand, so I mean now they’ll have to come up and grab the keys from me and take the car. They can’t just come up and jump in my car and take it away,” says Bishop.

Some women aren’t taking any chances.

“As an older woman, I have to be very aware of my surroundings, so number one, I’m not on the cell phone because that’s a distraction,” says Langenstein.

For those who have already fallen victim, they say the crime changed them.

“I have a gun, right now in my pocket, with my hand on the handle. I’m terrified. I’m terrified,” says the victim.

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