Beginning the mid-1980, incidences of carjacking have seized the attention of the media with accountsof these sudden and most of the time violent crimes. Experiences of carjacking can be traumatic to a person’s everyday life because of the fear it creates in the otherwise common act of driving a motor vehicle. Victims of carjacking have reports being unable to drive a car again while others have required years of therapy. Othershave become hypersensitive, that uncomfortableand precarioussituations have result in response to their fear when someone unwittingly approached their car on foot.However, despite efforts to legislate laws and attempts bylaw enforcement agencies to address this form of crime, statistics show that incidences of carjacking continue to rise. This makes this form of crime even difficult to solve. Hopefully, studies by various scholars in the field of criminology such as Jacobs, Topalli and Wright will help in understanding the criminal and psychological behavior of these offenders and therefore provide better ways of handling such crimes.


Carjacking is a crime that has in recent years taken root in the American social system. Recent crime statistics have showed that the rates of this form of crime have risen in recent times. This paper presents an analysis of carjacking as presented by Jacobs, Topalli and Wright, and thereafter presents my opinion with regards to their view of carjacking.

According to Harper & Frailing(2013) carjacking is a category of robbery that involves the taking of a motor vehicle by force and violence or intimidation.The force may consist of the use of a handgun, simulated handgun, club, machete, knife or fists. It is a specialized version of robbery that typically results in an enhanced penalty due to the likelihood of violence and danger to society. Carjackers use many ruses to engage a victim. Some stage accidents, others wait for their victims at workplace parking lots or residential driveways. Carjackings have resulted in car thefts, injuries and deaths. The stolen vehicle is then used as in the conventional crime of vehicle crime of vehicle theft: for resale, resale of parts, or use in committing another offense(Hess & Orthmann, 2012).The federal carjacking statute provides that a person possessing a firearm who takes a motor vehicle from another person or presence of another person by force and violence or intimidation is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 years. In the occasion that there is serious bodily injury, the person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 25 years and if death results, the person may be imprisoned for any number of year up to life.

Jacobs, Topalli & Wright’s Position.

Jacobs, Topalli and Wright state that the offense of carjacking is apremeditated crime. It is planned and carefully executed by the offenders.Carjackersnot only wait for an opportunity to presents itself, but are also ready to take advantage of an opportunity when it presented itself.The authors further add that carjackers are repeat offenders, who had previously successfullycommitted a crime without being caught and believed that the prospect of them being caught were low.They state that carjackers have a pre-arranged mental conception of how the offense would be committed successfully. The authors further posit that different offenders have different preferences with regards to the type of target motor vehicle, theunderlying consideration being the price that a particular vehicle fetches.Jacobs, Topalli and Wright posit that carjacking is mostly directed at taking possession of the motor vehicle as opposed to causing injury to the person. However, the authors note that carjackers can also use carjacking as a punishment to drivers who show disregard to other people(Bartol & Bartol, 2014).

Explain why you agree or disagree with Jacobs, Topalli & Wright’s

I agree with some of the positions taken by Jacobs, Topalli and Wright’son carjacking. However, there are aspects of their view that I disagree.I concur with them to the extent that carjacking contains elements of short-term planning and decision-making. According to Hess & Orthmann(2012) carjackers use many ruses to engage a victim. Some stage accidents, others wait for their victims at workplace parking lots or residential driveways. This implies that the crime of carjacking is premeditated before it is committed. It is planned and carefully executed, therefore reflecting elements of short-term planning.I disagree with them to the extent that carjacking is mostly directed at taking possession of the motor vehicle as opposed to robbing the occupants of their personal possessions and causing injury to the person when they receive no cooperation. According toHarper & Frailing(2013) and Hess & Orthmann(2012), carjacking is a violent crime rather than a property crime. The criminals do not hesitate to make contact with and use violence on their victim to obtain the desired goods, which can both be the motor vehicle and rob the occupants their valuables.Carjackings have resulted in car thefts, injuries and deaths. According to the Interpol, in Carjacking, criminals do not hesitate to make contact with and use violence on their victim to obtain the desired goods.

The behavioral, cognitive and cultural aspects that might apply to this specific crime type.

The successful commitment of a carjacking is dependent on various factors, both on the victim’s part and the offender’s part.One key factor is fear. According to Hess & Orthmann(2012), offenders establish and exploit fear in their victims and do a carjacking quickly if they are going to be successful in their carjacking. Fear is key to the successful perpetration of a carjacking. Carjackers predominantly use verbal threats and the display of firearms to increase victims’ level of fear to the point that it compels compliance.However, others use gentler techniques, such as reminding victims that a car is not worth their lives or reassuring them that the only item of interest is the car in order to get them to comply.

The motivation for carjacking is not clear because the vehicles are taken under different circumstances and for so many reasons. One theory for the increase in carjacking incidences is the increased use of alarms and protective devices on vehicles making it difficult to steal a vehicle by traditional means. Another theory suggests that status is involved: a criminal who carjacks a vehicle achieves higher status in the criminal subculture than does one who steals it in the conventional manner. Police believe that the crime is becoming a fad among certain groups of young people as a way to enhance their image with their cohorts.Hess & Orthmann (2012)add that themotivation of carjackers mirrors those of robbers more than those of auto thieves.


Carjacking has become a crime that has taken root in contemporary American society. This has been attributed to the increased perception of carjacking as a higher status crime as opposed to car theft. Various laws have been legislated to address it, such as the Carjacking Corrections Act which imposes strict penalties for people convicted of carjacking. However, crime rates of carjacking remain a relatively high. It is therefore imperative that police agencies are trained on how to handle carjacking crimes, while the public needs to be made aware of some of the preventive measures and safety steps that can be taken to avoid being carjacked.


Bartol, A., & Bartol, B. (2014). Criminal Behavior: A Psychological Approach (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Harper, D. W., & Frailing, K. (2013). Fundamentals of Criminology: New Dimensions. Durham, North Carolina: Carolina Academic Press.

Hess, K., & Orthmann, C. H. (2012). Criminal Investigation (10 ed.). Clifton Park, New York: Cengage Learning.