You might have seen increased media coverage regarding carjackings and thefts at gas stations around the country. Maybe you or someone you know has fallen victim to these crimes while traveling.

The unique setting of a gas station allows thieves to catch their victims by complete surprise — when they are pumping gas or paying for gas inside the station.

Most of the time, gas station customers leave their car doors unlocked and items like purses and wallets are often left in plain view. A thief is able to drive up next to the victim’s car, open an unlocked door, and grab any valuables within reach. Then, the thief quickly drives off. It happens in a matter of seconds.

But these thefts can be easily prevented if the appropriate precautions are taken. Follow these tips to reduce your risk of becoming a victim at a gas station.

  • Pick stations that are well-lighted and have video surveillance cameras at the pump.
  • Always remove your keys and lock the doors while you are pumping gas.
  • Keep valuables out of plain view in your vehicle and lock the doors even if you are going inside for a moment.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Don’t let your cellphone distract you.

Also, carefully consider where and when you buy gas. In addition, make a practice of filling up your tank when it is half-empty, if possible. Never let your gas supply get so low that you are forced to stop for fuel in an unsafe or unfamiliar area at a dangerous time.