MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - You're driving around town, going about your business, and out of nowhere, it all comes to a screeching halt.
Your vehicle and your life are in jeopardy.
According to Memphis Police Department, carjackings increased nearly 10 percent from 2014 to 2015. From January 1 to November 14 in 2015 there had been 113 carjacking in Memphis. During the same time frame in 2016, Memphis has already seen 150 carjackings. That leaves a 32 percent increase in carjackings when compared to last year.
The three most likely places for carjackings in Memphis are intersections, outside a house or apartment, and gas stations.
A WMC Action News 5 investigation found that in Memphis, carjackings are most likely to happen in parts of North Memphis, Downtown, and Midtown.
"I just keep my doors locked at all times pretty much," Logan Jackson, new driver, said.
Carjacking victims and their loved ones said those responsible need to face the consequences of their actions.
"They have to be punished for what they did," Laveda Brunt said.
Brunt's father, 83-year-old Eddie Walker, was a carjacking victim. Walker was shot and killed on the street where he lived. Police said the gunman, Ladarrius Montgomery, got away with Walker's 2005 Ford Taurus. Montgomery is expected to appear in court this week.
With incidents like those on the minds of motorists, drivers said they're more cautious.
"I'm alert. I look around and make sure no one is watching," Sandra Hines, motorist, said. "When I get in my car I always observe."
But they can happen anywhere, any day of the week and any time of day.
You have to think quickly and clearly, and there are risks involved, but you can fight back, and win.
"Don't go anywhere with them," self-defense and martial arts instructor Chad Chilcutt said. "What's going to happen is what's going happen right then and there."
Chilcutt and his son, Cody, walked us through different scenarios of what to do in all three of those most common carjacking situations.
"The car is actually something that can be used for you or against you," Chilcutt said.
He said always prepare to expect the unexpected.
All of these moves take practice, but if done correctly, they can save your life.
"We try to teach to always be aware of your surroundings," Chilcutt said. "Safety first, so at any moment, even if you're not ready, you can handle the situation a lot better."
Watch the story here for a video demonstration of three carjacking self-defense moves.
Remember the four A's:
AWARENESS: Wherever you are, on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, driving or waiting for a bus or subway, stay alert and tuned into your surroundings. Pay attention to what is around you and who is around you. Awareness is the first step to staying safe. Chilcutt relates it to lessons we learned as kids, such as looking both ways before crossing a street.
ASSESSMENT: Once we are aware of our surroundings, the next step is to assess the situation and the people around you. Is there any reason for concern? What is the potential threat? Are you in danger? If the answer to these questions is 'yes,' then this a sign to distance yourself from the potential threat and/or leave the area. Practicing assessment will help you avoid any potential threat or confrontation.
AVOIDANCE: We all have a God-given and built-in defense mechanism: your intuition. Trust your instincts and listen to your gut. If something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or situation at all costs and leave the scene. Know your boundaries, know your neighborhoods and where you live and work, etc. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, hospitals, restaurants, exits, stores that are open and open late at night. Avoidance works best when you have a safe place to go.
ATTITUDE: Project through your body language and verbal tonality that you're calm and confident and know where you're going. You don't want to be perceived as weak, vulnerable, lost or easy prey. Stay strong with confidence. Keep your shoulders back, stand straight up and remember eye contact. Be smart, keep calm and keep fighting if needed.
These tips are part of a much larger strategy, but they are good starter tips to help all of us stay safe. Don't live paranoid; live prepared.