Carjackings typically occur when you are sitting in your car at an intersection, in your driveway, in a parking lot or when you are getting gas, and someone walks to your vehicle, thrusts a gun in your face and says: “Get out of your car,” or, even worse, “Move over.”

What will you do?

A carjacking can happen anywhere and at any time of the day. Car thieves think it is much easier to steal a car with the keys in the ignition and while the driver is present because of new, sophisticated alarm systems and theft-deterrent devices.

There are few local statistics because the crime is relatively new, but FBI statistics show that 1.2 million vehicles valued at more than $8 billion were stolen last year. Arrests were made in less than 15 percent of these thefts.

Most carjackers look for sleek, powerful luxury cars to steal. Others steal so they can go for a joy ride. Stolen cars are cut up for body parts, sold and exported, or driven until they are wrecked.

Of course, there are no guarantees, but there are a few common-sense safety tips that can reduce the risk.

First, when approaching your vehicle, have they key in your hand and be ready to unlock the door. Check the locks and back seat before you get in.

Second, if someone is in or near your car, immediately turn around and return to your home or business, and call for the police.

Third, keep car doors and windows locked, and stay out of high crime areas (especially at night).

Fourth, be suspicious of persons approaching your car asking for directions, change or passing out flyers. If a suspicious person approaches your car, drive away carefully. When stopping in traffic, leave enough distance between your car and the one in front so you can pull away quickly.

Fifth, if you are driving home and someone you don’t recognize is walking down the street, drive around the block and come back after the person has left. Call the police if you think it is necessary. Make sure you can give a good clothing description. As you pull up to your garage, look along the sides of your home and make sure no one is hiding close to your garage door before you get out.

Sixth, if another driver bumps your vehicle or your tire goes flat, keep your doors and windows closed and wait for the police to arrive, or drive slowly to a public place where you are not alone.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.