Tips To Avoid Becoming A “Jump-Out” Robbery Victim

Cars have long been a convenience of modern life. Unfortunately, the concept of the “getaway” car followed the first Model-A Ford off the production line almost immediately. Criminals since have found even more creative ways to use cars to make their trade easier and safer – for them. Jump-out robberies are one example of such an unfortunate innovation, motorizing the already problematic crime of armed robbery. In this article, we briefly explore the nature of jump-out robberies and propose some means to reduce the potential of becoming a victim.

Defining “Jump-Out” Robberies

In its simplest form, a jump-out robbery is one in which the victim is approached by a vehicle, one or more assailants exit the vehicle to take the victims valuables while a driver stays behind the wheel, after which the assailants return to the vehicle and drive away. There can be one or many assailants, and many degrees of physical force or types of weapons used to menace the victim. The common denominator is the criminals’ use of the vehicle to flee what otherwise is a pedestrian robbery.

Common “Jump-Out” Robbery Scenarios

The most frequent jump-out robbery scenario involves the criminals using a vehicle both to approach the victim and to flee the crime scene, as was the case in the following narrative of a jump-out robbery near a popular Atlanta café a few weeks ago:

On Thursday morning at 1:00AM, a friend and I were leaving Café XXXXXXX on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, heading to my car parked on a nearby side street. Another car turned the corner as we prepared to cross the street and we paused to let it pass by. The occupants of the car stared at us as they went by and something didn’t seem right. I steered my friend up onto the sidewalk and to the passenger side of my car, away from the street.

About 300 feet past us, the car that had just gone by made a quick u-turn and accelerated towards us. I had turned away to unlock my car and suddenly heard the other car squeal to a halt. My friend yelled “Whoa!” and then I heard the sound of a pistol being cocked. As I turned back, I saw a robber had jumped out of the other car and was bearing down on me with gun in hand.

After demanding my wallet and PIN number, the robber forced me to lie on the ground and jumped back into his car, which sped away.

(More on this story, which is paraphrased above, will be featured in future articles.)

There are other variations to a jump-out robbery, including the robbers’ car being parked, the robbers hiding inside as a victim walks by, and then jumping out. Another variation is for the robbers to ambush the victim on foot and then jump into a waiting vehicle to flee (a “jump-in” robbery, if you will). No matter the specific form, these robberies happen fast, often can be violent and present a number of serious risks to the victim.

Ways to Avoid Jump-Out Robberies

The key to avoiding a jump-out robbery is to take avoiding action before the “jump-out” stage of the crime ever occurs. Once the assailant(s) have exited the vehicle and initiated the criminal encounter, the victim has few options. While there is no one practice that will prevent a person from ever becoming the victim of a jump-out robbery, but there are a few key behaviors that can help reduce the potential of becoming a victim:

  • Increase awareness. By becoming aware of the potential threat before the jump-out occurs, the criminal encounter can be more easily avoided and many more options are open to the potential victim. Being constantly more aware is a hard-learned skill and even harder behavioral change, but a must for avoiding this and other violent crimes. In this case, spotting the predator vehicle or jump-out(s) at a distance can mean the difference between fright and trauma, or even life and death. Watch for suspicious vehicles (missing or mis-matched tags, broken windows, windows open in inclement weather), suspicious passenger behavior (staring, threatening statements, visible weapons) and suspicious driving behavior (unusually slow speed, circling, cruising by multiple times, making illegal u-turns, crossing into the direction of oncoming traffic).
  • Don’t present an easy target. By avoiding those places where jump-out robberies are likely to occur and being more difficult to approach on foot or by vehicle, it is possible to become a less attractive target. Avoid those places where a jump-out robbery is more likely to occur – empty or poorly-lit streets, sketchy neighborhoods, unmonitored or vacant parking lots, etc. Always walk against oncoming traffic to force potential assailants (traveling by car in either direction) to circle or swerve into the direction of oncoming traffic to engage you. Don’t stop to interact with people in cars – you can answer seemingly-innocuous questions about the time or directions while continuing to move, or simply say “I don’t know” and keep moving.
  • Have a plan and know when to act on it.  By considering what can happen and how to react to it before the “jump-out” occurs, it becomes possible to take preventative action and reduce the potential of a criminal encounter. Prepare by developing “if… then” cases (“If the same car passes me more than once and then makes a u-turn, then I will assume I am being targeted and act thusly.”) Upon becoming aware of suspicious behavior or feeling targeted, act on that plan without hesitation.

Reacting to a Jump-Out Robbery

Before the jump-out occurs and the criminal encounter is initiated, there are two possible reactions – flee or posture.

When choosing to flee, try to do so in a direction that the vehicle cannot follow (between houses or parked cars, through dense stands of trees, over or around fences, up or down stairs, into buildings or other structures, etc.) and towards help (open businesses and restaurants, obviously occupied homes, police and fire stations, etc.). Try to keep track of the vehicle both to make sure it doesn’t move to block escape routes and also to spot where assailants may have exited the vehicle to pursue on foot. If either of these occur finding help quickly becomes even more important and it may become necessary or desirable to posture as well.

Posturing refers to any behavior designed to disrupt or discourage a criminal encounter. In this context, posturing may include setting off a personal alarm, calling for help or readying a defensive weapon for use and making it visible. While there are times posturing can be the most beneficial course of action by itself, in the moments before a jump-out robbery occurs it may be advisable first to flee and only then consider posturing.

After the jump-out occurs and the criminal encounter is initiated, there are four basic responses one can make – fight, posture, flee or capitulate.  In the context of a jump-out robbery, these often mean:

  • Fight: Use some manner of force to disable or dissuade the assailant(s), for example, utilizing a personal defense device. This may not always be possible, or advisable, in a jump-out robbery because of the frequency with which the assailants also will be armed and have tactical advantage due to numbers or surprise. In this as in almost any case where an assailant has presented a weapon and the victim has not, the victim is far more likely to be injured while trying to present their own weapon if it is not already drawn. Best practice suggests it is better to posture or capitulate until tactical advantage can be gained (for example, capitulating to a demand for a wallet but throwing it past the assailant to distract them, and only then going on the offensive).
  • Posture:  Find some way to disrupt the attack and potentially drive off the assailant. In a jump-out robbery, this might include actions like activating a personal alarm, calling for help, or taking an unexpected action (like responding to a demand for money by throwing a wad of small bills – “mugger money” – into the assailant’s face.
  • Flee:  Leave the scene in a direction that the vehicle cannot follow (between houses or parked cars, through dense stands of trees, over or around fences, up or down stairs, into buildings or other structures, etc.) and towards help (open businesses and restaurants, obviously occupied homes, police and fire stations, etc.). However, it is important to remember both the vehicle and assailant(s) on foot may give chase and, if they already have presented a weapon, may use that weapon to prevent the victim from fleeing.
  • Capitulate:  Comply with the assailant’s demands. Once you have capitulated, unless the assailant instructs you otherwise, put as much distance between you and the assailant(s) and vehicle as possible. Please note, however, that capitulation can be interpreted as a sign of weakness and may prompt escalation of the jump-out robbery into kidnapping or other violent crime.  Be prepared to flee.

No one of these responses always will be the best one and, in practice, your response may be a combination of several of these (for example, “posture and then flee if the assailant escalates the threat of violence”). Many factors will have bearing on your individual plan to respond once the jump-out has occurred and the criminal encounter has been initiated, including:

  • The amount of warning you had that a jump-out robbery was about to occur
  • Your willingness and ability to defend yourself against a violent attack
  • The number and location of assailants and your proximity to safe route in which to flee

Regardless of the particular response or responses you choose, it is important to think about them, plan for them and potentially even practice them before a jump-out robbery occurs. Absent such preparations, the most common reaction to any assault (including jump-out robberies) is to freeze – at which point the worst-case outcomes are most likely to occur.

The Bottom Line

Jump-out robberies present special circumstances and challenges to be addressed as part of personal safety planning, and how to reach to the potential or reality of this crime must be considered in two phases – before the jump-out occurs and once assailant(s) have exited the vehicle and the criminal encounter has been initiated. Where the threat can be recognized and action taken before the jump-out occurs, the potential victim will have more choices. As such, it is critical to recognize the potential signs of an impending jump-out robbery, have a plan and to follow that plan without hesitation. For additional information on this topic and personal safety ideas and guidance please consider attending a Refuse To Be A Victim® crime-prevention seminar or contacting your local police department’s Community Relations officer.

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One Response

  1. […] friends at No Victims recently posted this informative and useful guide to avoid being a victim of this ever-increasing type of robbery. The original impetus for this […]

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