Local police departments are warning residents that there’s been a recent increase in staged vehicle collisions in the region, with the at-fault driver purposefully rear-ending a vehicle with the sole purpose of committing a carjacking.
Here’s more info from the Renton Police Department:
On Sept. 8, 2023 9:42 p.m., a driver was exiting onto Rainier Avenue S., from the Renton Walmart parking lot when he was struck from behind by a vehicle. When the victim driver turned to check on the two juveniles who were seated in his backseat, he observed three individuals exit the at-fault vehicle and quickly approach his car. One suspect opened the rear door of the victim’s vehicle and sat down, pointing a handgun at the juveniles in the back seat; another approached the driver’s side window and pointed a gun at the driver while ordering him out of the car, while the third suspect entered the vehicle via the passenger side. The victim driver immediately complied and exited his vehicle, while instructing the children to get out of the backseat. All suspects immediately fled the scene (including the original suspect vehicle/driver).
Suspects were described as three dark-skinned males, wearing dark clothing and ski masks, ranging in height 5’9” to 5’11”, with one suspect having short dreadlocks. Suspect vehicle was described only as a dark sedan.
Random acts of violence can’t be predicted, but here are a few suggestions we’d like to offer our community with this type of incident in-mind:
- Pay attention to your surroundings at **ALL** times; crimes like this can happen anywhere at any time, day or night. (Although, suspects looking to commit this offense are most likely hoping to approach you in an isolated location, wanting to target lone and/or vulnerable drivers, and in all probability, prefer to target victim vehicles during the hours of darkness).
- If you are leaving a parking lot, drive a lap or two around the lot (if the location allows) to ascertain if anyone appears to be following your movements. Pay attention as you’re driving to your next destination for similar indicators. Go around a block once or twice, take a short cut through an active business area, etc. If you feel you’re being followed, drive to a police station that’s open 24/7 (like Renton PD), to an emergency room or other location where there is a high frequency of foot and/or vehicle traffic. Lay on your horn once you get there if you need to; don’t worry about attracting attention **that’s what you want!** (Please Note: Not all fire stations are staffed 24/7, so we do not recommend you drive to one of these locations if you think you are being followed and need help.)
- If you have any hesitation about getting out of your vehicle following a collision (even a minor fender bender), drive to a location where you feel safe *WHILE calling 911* from your cellphone. You can advise dispatch why you left the scene and where officers can meet you.
- If something like this occurs, try to memorize as much as you can about the involved vehicle, suspects, license plate, and direction of travel when they fled.
- Keep your personal belongings as close to you as you can; do not toss keys, purse/wallet, cellphone, etc., onto the seat next to you or in the backseat (belt bags are a great option for storing these types of items – and keep it on when you’re driving. You’ll get used to it.).
- If this type of criminal incident happens to you, and you don’t feel safe or able to escape the scene in your vehicle, cooperate with the suspects and get out of the vehicle immediately. Run as fast as you can in the opposite direction of where the incident took place, putting as many obstacles between you and the suspects as you can. Call 911 as soon as you feel safe.
- Place an Apple Air tag or comparable tracking sensor in an unobvious location inside your vehicle.
- Before you leave your home, make sure the tracking locator for your cellphone is turned on and/or download Life 360 (it’s free!), and add at least one family member and one friend to your ‘circle’.
PLEASE KEEP IN MIND:
- Suspects who are choosing this type of crime have already decided they are willing to risk it all for your vehicle; the weapons they (probably) have in their possession will already be pointed at you and whoever is with you.
- This is no time to gamble on your or your loved one’s safety.
**LET THEM HAVE THE CAR.**