February 28, 2024

Renton police are warning the public of an increase in staged car crashes in the region, where a carjacker will purposefully rear-end a driver and then take their car.

The Renton Police Department said on Friday at 9:42 p.m., a driver was exiting onto Rainier Avenue South from the Renton Walmart parking lot when he was hit from behind by a car.

When the driver turned to check on the two children in the backseat, he saw three people get out of the car that rear-ended him, a dark sedan, and quickly come up to his car. One of the people opened the back door of his car, sat down, and allegedly pointed a handgun at the children in the back seat. Another person allegedly approached the driver’s side window and pointed a gun at him while ordering him out of the car. Another person got in the car on the passenger side.

The driver immediately got out of the car, while telling the children to get out of the backseat.

All of the people then fled the scene. They were described as three dark-skinned men, wearing dark clothing and ski masks, ranging in height from 5 feet 9 inches tall to 5 feet 11 inches tall, with one man having short dreadlocks.

The Renton Police Department said “random acts of violence can’t be predicted” but shared safety tips:

  • Pay attention to your surroundings at all times. Crimes like carjacking can happen anywhere at any time, day or night.

  • People looking to commit this crime are most likely hoping to approach you in an isolated location, wanting to target lone and/or vulnerable drivers. They also prefer to target in the dark.

  • If you are leaving a parking lot, drive a lap or two around the lot to see if anyone appears to be following you. “Go around a block once or twice, take a shortcut through an active business area, etc.,” said Renton PD.

  • If you feel you’re being followed, drive to a police station that’s open 24/7, like the Renton Police Department, or to an emergency room or other location where there is a lot of foot and/or car traffic. “Lay on your horn once you get there if you need to, don’t worry about attracting attention, that’s what you want!” said Renton PD. Note, that not all fire stations are staffed 24/7.

  • If you have any hesitation about getting out of your car after a collision, drive to a location where you feel safe while calling 911 from your cell phone. You can advise dispatch why you left the scene and where officers can meet you.

  • If something like this happens to you, try to memorize as much as you can about the involved cars, suspects, license plates, and the direction of travel they fled.

  • Keep your personal belongings as close to you as you can. Don’t toss keys, purses, wallets, cellphones, etc., onto the seat next to you or in the backseat.

  • If an incident happens to you, and you don’t feel safe or able to escape the scene in your car, cooperate with the suspects and get out of the car immediately. Run as fast as you can in the opposite direction of where the incident took place, putting as many obstacles between you and the suspects as you can. Call 911 as soon as you feel safe.

  • Place an Apple Air tag or comparable tracking sensor in an unobvious location inside your car.

  • Before you leave your home, make sure the tracking locator for your cellphone is turned on and/or download Life 360, and add at least one family member and one friend to your ‘circle’.

“Suspects who are choosing this type of crime have already decided they are willing to risk it all for your vehicle, the weapons they probably have in their possession will already be pointed at you and whoever is with you. This is no time to gamble on your or your loved one’s safety. Let them have the car.” said Renton PD.

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