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If you live in Atlanta, you've probably noticed a lot more carjacking stories on the evening news. AAA Insurance has noticed, and is warning residents about two popular carjacking techniques. "A person goes over to fill their car up and when they leave their vehicle open someone comes over on that side," AAA spokesperson Garrett Townsend told Atlanta's CBS46. Atlantans should also be on the lookout for the "squat and scoop," where perpetrators stage a fender bender and strike when a driver gets out to check the damage.
So how can you avoid becoming a carjacker's next victim? And what criminal charges do alleged carjackers face? Here's what you need to know.
Unlike some states, Georgia doesn't have a specific carjacking statute, which can make tracking carjacking stats difficult. Instead, carjackers are normally charged with auto theft, along with assault or other accompanying charges depending on the circumstances. Georgia's criminal code makes it a felony to "enter any automobile or other motor vehicle with the intent to commit a theft or a felony." And any assault "[w]ith a deadly weapon or with any object, device, or instrument which, when used offensively against a person, is likely to or actually does result in serious bodily injury" is an aggravated assault, also a felony.
And other aggravating factors, like a prior criminal record, carjacking a commercial vehicle, or discharging a weapon from a vehicle can only add years to any possible prison sentence.
While some crimes are unavoidable, there are ways to reduce your chances of being carjacked. Besides being vigilant while filling up your car at gas stations and after accidents, try to keep any valuables out of sight and drive with company in the car, especially at night. You can also avoid driving or parking in unfamiliar territory.
If you have more questions about carjacking, or have been charged with a carjacking-related crime, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area.