A young AA customer service adviser suffered an attempted car-jacking by a thug wielding an axe when he stopped in his car in Halesowen, earlier this week.
Luckily he managed to lock his doors and drive away with a smashed rear passenger window.
The AA says there appears to have been an increase in more violent episodes of car-jacking recently, most notably in the Midlands and Yorkshire.
A heavily pregnant woman was pinned to the ground by two men who sprayed a noxious substance in her eyes before stealing her car, last week. According to the police the attackers were "lying in wait" before they approached her VW Golf in a car park in Birmingham.
In fact it is reported that police in Birmingham are investigating a “wave of car-jackings” after a spate of six in two weeks.
Similarly in Bradford there was an attempted car-jacking of a Jaguar in which a pensioner was injured by some sort of gun.
Since September police have reported there have been 66 car-jackings in West Yorkshire in which vehicles were stolen - 26 of which occurred in Bradford.
Edmund King OBE, AA president, said: "We have been alarmed at what appears to be an increase in more violent car-jacking incidents particularly across the Midlands and Yorkshire.
“There seems to be two types of crime at play here. In some cases, criminals are deliberately targeting high-end cars that may be stolen to order and probably shipped out of the country. At the other end are the more opportunist criminals who find it easier to steal cars by accosting vulnerable drivers and stealing the keys.
“Either way, the car keys are the weakest link in the car security chain and should be guarded like cash. Despite the recent spate of car-jacking incidents it is still a relatively rare crime but we are just advising drivers to be more vigilant.”
AA top tips to avoid car-jacking
The AA advises motorists to give themselves more time on frosty mornings to de-ice the car using a scraper rather than leaving the engine running and risk having the car stolen. When out and about it pays to be vigilant rather than paranoid as these incidents are still rare.
- Keep your doors locked particularly when driving in urban areas.
- Know the route you are using to travel to your destination. Car-jacking gangs may be more likely to target motorists who look unsure of where they are going.
- Be aware of suspicious activity in car parks and have your keys ready when you approach your car. Park on a well-lit, busy street or in a car park displaying the ‘park mark’ sign which shows that it has been approved under the safer parking scheme.
- Always ensure that you take your car keys out of the vehicle if you are going into shops or a petrol station even if there is someone left in the car. Similarly, keep windows closed if possible.
- Always try to leave a gap between your vehicle and the car in front when stopped at traffic lights or in traffic. If you are approached by car crooks, being too close to the vehicle in front will prevent you from manoeuvring your car out of danger.
- If your car is nudged by another vehicle and you are suspicious of the intention of the other driver, do not stop, try to take the car details down and report the incident to the police. Some car-jacking gangs use the tactic of nudging a vehicle and then stealing the keys when the driver stops.
- If attempts are made to steal your car, dial 999 and sound your horn to draw attention to your car.
- Protect your car keys. Don’t leave keys hanging in your hallway close to the front door as criminals involved in ‘hooking’ sometimes use a fishing rod to hook your keys through the letter-box.