Someone tried to carjack me once, when I was in college. It went like this.

I had just dropped my grandmother off from a doctor's appointment (how much more sweet and innocent can you get?). She lived in a pretty bad part of Long Beach, not too far from the starting point of another, much less action-filled incident, near Pacific Coast Highway and Cherry, for those who know the area.

I was waiting to make a right turn on to PCH and saw a prostitute on the corner to my right. Unlike the vast majority of the prostitutes in the area, she was actually somewhat attractive, though still pretty skanky. I made the mistake of making eye contact with her, which brought her walking toward the car. I turned the other way to check traffic, saw that it was clear, and went to take off. The timing here is a little confusing, but by the time I became fully aware that the prostitute had gotten in the car with me (thank you grandma for leaving the door unlocked), I was already out in the flow of traffic.

"Um, I'm sorry if you got the wrong impression but I'm not really interested. And even if I was, I don't really have any money..."

"Just pull over here." She said, pointing to a side street.

"Uh... huh?"

"Just pull the fuck over now!" She nearly shouted. Um, okay...

More than a little confused, I pulled down the side street and came to a stop. It was a typical street in the area, very narrow with a mixture of appartments and cheap stucko ranch houses. I looked over at her and it was then that I saw she had a knife. Nothing major, it looked like it was probably a smaller Swiss Army Knife. I was still not sure what was going on.

"If you try to get out, I'll cut you." She said. Uh huh. OK.

Nothing in my middle-middle-class suburban upbringing had prepared me for a woman sitting in my car threatening me with a Swiss Army Knife, so I did something really, really dumb: I make a grab for the knife. It wasn't a macho thing, I think, it just seemed like we'd both be a lot safer with the knife in my hand rather than hers.

So I grabbed her wrist and started to, well, I wasn't quite sure where to go from there. Should I just hold her in place, since she doesn't seem strong enough to pull free? Or should I try to grab the knife itself and get her out of the car? Hell, I hadn't thougt that far ahead. I had her wrist secure and I was surprised enough at that. Before I could do much thinking about what should come next, I hear/see a gigantic pickup truck pull up next to me. Thank god, I think, someone's here to help me. The guy driving the truck levels a gun at me. Aw, crap.

Now, looking back on it, I know that the gun was just a mid-size pistol of some kind but at the time I was literally looking down the barrel of a gun and it was a little black hole that filled my world. I really didn't want to be there anymore, so with my free hand I put the car in first gear -one of the few times in my life when I have cursed a stick-shift- and took off down this little street, trying to steer with one hand, still holding the prostitute's knife hand with the other.

Her friend in the truck starts chasing us and I get up about as fast as first can go, maybe 30 MPH. She apparantly had done this before because she grabbed for my car keys, the idea being that a car doesn't run very well without keys in the ignition. So she yanks on my rubber chicken keychain and pulls it out. The trouble is that as soon as they engine shuts down, my steering locks. My course has by no means been perfectly straight, having to wrangle with her and steer at the same time, so before I can hit the brakes I run into the side of a parked van, skid along it, and come to a stop near the next intersection (the whole chase covered less than one block).

She pulls away from me and jumps out just as the truck screeches by. She scampers over, hops in, and they speed off, never to be seen by my eyes again.

I remember jumping out and reciting the license plate number at the top of my lungs, pointing an accusing finger as the truck sped away. Needless to say, I was pretty high on adrenaline by that point. When the police showed up, I just laughed and laughed and laughed, which is generally how I deal with stress. They found the truck less than an hour later with my keys on the floor. Big surprise, it was stolen, too. My car was totalled from hitting the van (cracked axle), but somehow there was literally not a scratch on the van I hit. They caught the woman and she got two years in prison. Turns out she was a few months younger than me. Judging by where this happened, we might well have gone to high school together.

Carjacker - A Career Profile

Have you ever walked out to the parking lot and been unable to find your car? The confusion and fear set in, but soon you realize you've parked your car in the next row over. How embarrassing! But don't worry, it happens to everyone. But what about the unfortunate few that can't ever find their cars again? Well, the people that make this magic happen are working hard 'round the clock to generate work for police officers and make tragic bar stories for their victims work 'round the clock to improve their craft.

Working Conditions and Earnings

You'll want to go somewhere that the car business is already big. Two requirements are a local chop shop at which you'll earn cold, hard cash for the fruits of your labor, and a decent supply of wealthy people with nice cars. Big cities are often the best.

You won't earn a lot. Anywhere from 5-10 grand per car, but a lot more if you get lucky. You'll be working nights, mostly, so be prepared to deal with the schedule change. You'll also be spending a lot of time on the move, so be used to travel. And, in case things go awry, be sure to have a friend in Mexico you can shack up with if you get in a jam. And, worst case scenario, you should also be prepared to spend a lot of time in a small, cold cell with a large man that wants to be your best friend.

Education and Qualifications

Grand Theft Auto is a skill you don't learn in school, so stop going. It can help though, so maybe now's not the best time to quit the day job. Car thieves should know how to operate a car and have a fully-functional set of legs. Training in auto mechanics is a plus - the craftiest car thieves can bypass all those fancy computer security systems and steal even the newest, most expensive cars in a short amount of time. The upside to this is that you can create a high revenue without actually having to work with people - not that social skills are important in this field. You can still avoid true carjacking without any real technology know-how, but you'll probably spend a lot of time wrenching Clubs off of old Volvos.

If you prefer to go the direct route, you should have poor people skills. This comes naturally to most people, but you can sharpen these by moving to New York City. As a carjacker, your duties will include stealing cars by force while the owner is present. Being able to wave a handgun in a threatening manner is a useful thing to know how to do, but be careful - pick the wrong car and you'll find yoursely staring down the barrel of a shotgun. Avoid pickup trucks in rural areas to avoid this mishap.

More Information

Play a lot of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and watch the movie Gone in 60 Seconds.

Don't take anything seriously. Many apologies to DrDoof, and those who actually have had their car stolen.

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