How to Prevent and Survive a Carjacking

Former NYPD detective shows pitfalls car owners make to turn their luxury vehicles into targets for thieves.
7:08 | 01/22/15

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Transcript for How to Prevent and Survive a Carjacking
Tonight the story of one courageous college student who died trying to protect his loved ones from thieves. It's the nightmare scenario for drivers, criminals targeting you while you're in your car. But there are ways to protect yourself. Reporter: It was an act of heroism with a tranl I guess endingare reserve college sophomore bobby Chrisman parked outside a nightclub with his little brother and friend Jen when the unimaginable happened. Great kid. Everybody Ka knew him happened. Reporter: An attacker forcing open the door, grabbing his friend Jen's purse. Bobby sitting in the front passenger seat tried to protect her and intervened. The suspect shot bobby in the head. Tonight, police still looking for bobby's killer as his family mourns his loss. Bobby's the bravest. He has the most courage. He's fearless. He's the hero. Reporter: His friend Jen lovingly praises bobby as her guardian angel, saying, I love him so much for everything he did for me and Sean that night. It's unfortunate that this case ended like this. Reporter: Yet veteran detectives like Joe jackalone say while his actions were courageous, we can all learn lessons from the tragic outcome. Dying for property is never the way to go. Let it go and replace it. Reporter: After 20 years with the NYPD, Joe says he's learned most of us don't realize how vulnerable we are while approaching our cars. Whether the crooks are after our wallets or the car itself. Almost 700,000 cars were stolen in 2013. That's roughly one car every 45 seconds. Anybody could be hiding from you. Reporter: Joe agreed to show us ways to be smart and stay alert. What mistakes do people make? Just right now you could have both hands full. You don't have a way -- That's bad? You don't have a way to defend yourself if you had to. At least if you had one hand available or at the least your keys in your other hand ready to enter your car. I'm always fumbling for my keys. Which is bad, especially at nighttime, dark area, you're not paying attention to what's going on behind you and someone can easily attack you. Reporter: Your cell phone might be your biggest enemy. The phone is probably going to be the biggest distraction that people have. And it's probably the number one reason why people become victims of crimes. Reporter: Joe warns someone with their eyes on their phone might get between a car jacker and their target. As the technology has gotten better, cars are less likely to be stolen. Especially high-end cars. And those are the ones thieves are targeting. If they can't steal one that's sitting in a parking lot, they're going to take it when it's running. That's the problem. There is a big market for high-end cars? Sure, especially overseas. Even if they keep it here they go to chop shops because the parts are worth more than the car itself. Reporter: "Grand theft auto" can have deadly consequences. Dustin Freeland was murdered in front of his wife in a parking lot of the short hills mall in New Jersey just days before Christmas 2013. Targeted, say investigators, because he was driving a range rover. Surveillance tape revealing Freedland's alleged killers may have scouted the mall, hunting for the right car and the right victim. They were looking for a specific target, a car that they wanted. So this place, it probably was a range recoverier. Reporter: Yuck see the suspect's dark SUV three days before carjacking, cruising the mall's parking lot. Watch as it follows this white range rover right past the entrance and then, on the night Dustin Freedland was killed, notice that same SUV lurking in the lot before driving to the freedlands' car. Minutes later, that SUV speeding off with the freedlands' stole be range rover behind it. This was a group of guys, not just one individual. You have to be mindful of, they're coming in threes and fours. Reporter: It's not just people with snazzy cars at risk. Turns out the most stolen cars are not luxury vehicles. Number one, the practical Honda accord. Then the humble civic. Followed by chevys and Fords full-sized pickups. No matter how fancy your ride you can protect yourself by thinking the safest place to park. Try to find a spot closest to the doors. Look for where there's a lot of light. There's spots on our right, on our left. If possible, what they call combat parking. What's that? Combat parking, you see cars here, they back into the spot. So it's difficult, if you're an American, to drive backwards if you had to. Reporter: Being aware of surroundings might not be enough. Last week this woman, increase S increase sin, was robbed in Arlington while at the drive-up. The carjacker forced her into her own trunk. After he pulled out his gun he told me to get in the trunk. Robbed at the Wells Fargo atm, put in the vehicle. Reporter: Her attack captured on surveillance tape. Police say the suspect right there, looking directly at this security camera, drove off. Driving around for several hours with Kristin trapped in the trunk. I thought maybe I'll have a chance of getting out of here. I found the unlock for the trunk on the inside. I popped it up. Luckily because of things that happen like this in the past, manufacturers have made it easier for a person to get out of the trunk. Years ago the cars, when you got into a trunk, there was no way of getting out. Now there's levers inside. If you get stuck inside, all you have to do is move it. It glows in the dark. Reporter: Kristin managed to open her trunk and escape. Joe says the next time you head to the atm, don't be paranoid, just be prepared. Have your atm card ready, take it out ahead of time. Pull up as close as you can to the atm machine. Because this also prevents somebody from being able to shied in between you. Put your card in, ready to go. Use your rear-view mirror. Make sure nobody's walking up to you. Reporter: Another tip, always leave your car in "Drive." Keep your foot on the brake. You're getting ready to get the money? It's coming. Take the money. Put it on the side. Now here's what you're most vulnerable. The guy waiting for you is knowing you're ready to go. You still have to retrieve your atm card, it's still in the machine. Foot off the gas, make sure you don't hit anybody who's walking, and you are gone. Reporter: Once you're on the road, remember carjacking is a crime of opportunity and criminals sometimes create those opportunities in order to grab your car with its engine on. If you're park ed along the road, inventive crooks have been known to use a trick using a 20 dollar bill on your windshield. Some person sit in their car, they're not looking up. They start their car, they're doing their thing, putting their seat belt on. They go, what's that? That looks like money. So they go, all right. Oh, geez, money. Now the car's running, mind you. They go like this. They go get the money off the windshield Weiner. By the time it takes them to do that, they're already inside your car, driving away. That's incredible. What most people try to do is get in the way, that's how you get run over. Reporter: Which goes to show being a safe driver involves more than just buckling up.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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