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As Carjacking Cases Continue, Groups Offer Safety Suggestions

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Milwaukee is wrestling with the crime of carjacking. It seems there are regularly stories in the news about people forced at gunpoint to give up their vehicles. Sometimes those crimes have deadly outcomes, as perpetrators speed away and crash.

On Thursday, members of the Common Council plan to discuss action they could take to reduce carjacking and high-speed chases. Meanwhile, some people concerned about the crime are urging drivers to take precautions. AAA is among them.

"Once you get in your car, lock your doors as soon as you get in and keep your windows rolled up as much as possible. While you're driving, if you have to stop at an intersection, try and stay in the center lane if possible and leave enough room between you and the cars around you to maneuver around in case you need to make a quick getaway," says Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs for AAA Wisconsin. "Never get in the car with a carjacker. Give up your car, give up your keys, throw the keys as far as you can and get away from the area as soon as possible. There's no reason to risk your life for your vehicle," Jarmusz adds.

Milwaukee Ald. Mark Borkowski adds this advice: "Please be aware of your surroundings. Please be aware that you are being profiled and targeted. That seems to be the modus operandi for these people."

Borkowski has had several carjackings in his district in the last couple of weeks. He believes perpetrators are looking for people who appear vulnerable, especially women who are driving alone. Borkowski says the carjackers often use a ploy to get drivers to stop and exit their vehicle.

"The other M.O. is to hit the back of the car. Obviously, you're going to be stunned a little bit because, 'oh geez I'm in an accident.' And then of course you get out because you're conscientious and you want to see what happened, is anybody hurt, that kind of stuff. That's all a distraction," Borkowski says.

While Borkowski is eager to share precautions, he’s quick to add that leaders must do more to stop carjackings, such as giving stiffer sentences for the crime. Borkowski says too many perpetrators, many of them juveniles, get off easily and re-offend.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke agrees that the community should focus on endingcarjacking, instead of focusing on ways to avoid it.

"I don't want to live in a city where the quality of life is so poor that we have to give people advice on how not to get carjacked. I mean, for heaven's sake," Clarke says.

Yet Clarke says perpetrators who focus on people who appear "vulnerable" eventually will come across the wrong drivers. The gun rights advocate claims more now carry firearms.

"There's enough people out there now to make this a chess match, instead of like shooting fish in a barrel for these criminals," Clarke says.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee aldermen are expected to share some ideas for fighting carjacking on Thursday as part of a broader crime-fighting package they'll unveil.

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