An SUV, a carjacking, and the things we hold dear

The story of an attempted carjacking in Milwaukee provides us one of those “what would I do?” opportunities that the news cycle occasionally provides.

Melissa Smith stopped at a gas station to fill up when a man tried to steal it.

She was having none of it.

There’s a fair amount of instinct here, of course, because a car isn’t worth what can happen to a person in a situation like this.

“This is not happening to me today,” she told WTMJ about her thought process.

Tip: When filling up your car, take your keys with you.

  • Jack

    No material object is worth your life. Things can be replaced, people can’t.

  • Mike

    While I admire her fighting spirit, this is definitely a ‘what not to do’ video. She is so lucky she didn’t get seriously injured.

  • Gary F

    Very risky, we don’t know if she had a spouse or kids dependent on her, but at some point you have a personal decision to make and she refused to be a victim.

    If we never stand up to this behavior, it will become more commonplace.

  • New cars don’t have keys, they have “fobs” that the driver must have before the car can be driven. If the driver keeps the fob on her person, the car will not start unless she is inside. I suspect the thieves know that people often leave the fob in the vehicle, in a purse or in the tray next to the shifter. I always pocket the fob before leaving the house and it stays with me as long as I use the car. If there is anything of value in the car, always lock the doors while fueling or (especially) if you go inside to pay.

    • Ben Chorn

      As someone who rents a lot of vehicles I hate the fobs. These push button starts are so annoying because I am used to taking the keys out of the ignition when I exit the car.

      • I know what you mean. When we had only one car with a fob I was always fishing for the key, since that was what I was used to. Once you get used to them they are great – just a matter of habit.

    • jon

      Keyfobs have their own security issues (everything does).

      • Yes, but the idea here is to not be the low-hanging fruit.

    • joetron2030

      My key fob rarely leaves my pocket since I have buttons on the door handles and trunk lid to unlock those.

  • AL287

    When I think back to when I was growing up, people left the keys in their cars, their doors unlocked on their houses and let their kids roam the neighborhood free without a lot of concern.

    There wasn’t stranger danger although now we’re finding the “creeps” were out there was but we just didn’t hear about it. i.e. pedophile priests and ministers, serial killers, etc.

    There wasn’t a big worry that someone was going to jump out of a big car and start your car up while you were pumping gas and drive off with it.

    I can’t say as I blame her but you have to give her credit for her tenacity when she could just as easily gotten injured or at the worst run over and killed.

    That carjacker got the surprise of his life when she wouldn’t let go.

    I’m with Gary. We need to stand up to this kind of behavior.

    Hopefully, the police got the license plate of the carjackers from the CC camera and they have gotten what’s coming to them.

    For the record, my keys are always in my hand when I fill up my car. My gas tank access is also on the same side as the driver.

    When I replace my vehicle, I will be looking at that feature as well.

    • jon

      Pinning down exact numbers is a bit of leg work since cars have become much more common over time…

      But in 1960 there were 74,159,209 registered vehicles and 328,200 thefts, or 0.44% of cars being stolen.
      in ~2013 253,639,386 registered vehicles and in 2012 699,594 thefts, that’s 0.28%. (sorry for the year differential wish I could find all the raw data to do a proper analysis but I got what I got for a quick comment.)

      So… the auto thefts were there too, worse than now on a per car basis… you probably also didn’t hear about those…

    • >>When I replace my vehicle, I will be looking at that feature as well.<<

      The best theft deterrent may just be having a manual transmission.

      • jon
      • My wife and I used to buy manual transmission vehicles, but now they are not even available on many models and the new CVT systems are actually more fuel efficient. CVT = continuously variable transmission. Once electric cars take over – and that is coming soon – there will be no need for transmissions. Car companies will have to take security more seriously!

      • AL287

        Unfortunately, drivers’ education programs use only automatic transmissions so I never learned how to drive a manual transmission.

        My older brothers and sisters all learned on manual transmissions. My son also had a manual transmission car until recently. With a baby on the way he decided to go with an automatic.

        I’ve lived in rural areas now for most of my adult life and I much prefer it to large urban areas because of carjackings, drive by shootings, street robberies, etc..

        The creeps who do this target urban areas because there are more cars available.

        The only solution now is to be vigilant.

        Sad state of affairs, isn’t it?

  • Al

    There is no way in hell, unless my kids were inside. I let my daughter listen to music while I pump gas sometimes.

    Note to self: She can make her own music for a bit.

    • Kassie

      I’m thinking your kids being inside is also a big deterrent. No one wants to be charged with kidnapping for just trying to steal a car.

      • Al

        One would think. I’m sure that’d be the day my kids go all Milford School.

      • joetron2030

        True, but it isn’t clear from the video if the thief even considered checking for passengers in the rear of the car or not. They were looking for a quick getaway.

  • Jim G

    This couldn’t happen in Oregon. Station attendents must pump fuel into all vehicles. It’s the law; no self service.