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Carjacking hits too close to home
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Many residents are shocked and enraged that an 83-year-old woman was assaulted and carjacked in broad daylight at a busy shopping center.

The carjacking (see today’s front page) happened Jan. 18 right before 9:45 a.m. at the Lincoln Hills Town Center, which is located at Lincoln Boulevard and Ferrari Ranch Road.

It was a typical Thursday morning at the downtown-area shopping center. Residents were shopping, working, drinking coffee and eating in the food establishments, and buying gas.

Except it wasn’t typical for the elderly woman. She had just finished shopping at CVS and was about to enter her car at the handicapped parking space in front of the store. A white or Hispanic man described by police to be in his 50s knocked her down and stole her car.

Fortunately, the woman only suffered minor injuries and was released from the hospital the next day.

But it could have been worse. For example, an 87-year-old woman died from injuries after being knocked to the ground last November by robbers at a Citrus Heights Rite Aide pharmacy.

No one, not a disabled older woman or a physically fit 20-year-old or any age for that matter, should have to worry about their safety when shopping or enjoying a cup of coffee.

And the elderly Lincoln woman couldn’t have done anything more to prevent being pushed down and carjacked. She parked as close to the store as possible and it was a morning hour when plenty of individuals were near by.

Since the carjacking, we have heard from fellow residents and read many online comments saying that Lincoln has changed from being a safe town where everyone looks after each other to being as dangerous as Sacramento’s rougher neighborhoods.

But we have to remind ourselves that the Jan. 18 carjacking is still a rare occurrence in Lincoln. The last carjacking was 13 years ago, according to Lincoln Police Chief Doug Lee. In that case, a man gave a woman he didn’t know a ride at night, she jumped out at a stop sign, pulled him out of the car and drove the car to Sacramento.

 “This (Jan. 18 carjacking) could have happened in Granite Bay, Sacramento or anywhere. People don’t need to be afraid of a crime wave or a new trend,” Lee said Monday. “Just as always, be vigilant of your surroundings. Park in a lighted area. Remember that a car is a piece of property. If someone has a weapon, let them have your car or purse. Don’t fight back. It’s not worth it.”

Lincoln is still a safe city, according to Lee.

“In general, some people say crime is on the increase,” Lee said. “But we’re putting more (press) releases out. It’s just an increase in our efforts to share what’s happening with the public.”

There is an increase for drug-related offenses, Lee added, with officers making more methamphetamine arrests. Meth is a big problem here with addicts ranging in age from 18 to 50s, according to the police chief.

As for carjackings, residents should remain aware of their surroundings, whether they’re in Lincoln or visiting any other city.

Barry Johnson, a retired San Francisco policeman of 32 years and the current Lincoln Hills Neighborhood Watch public safety liaison, also says that Lincoln is a relatively safe area.  

“But always be aware and alert at all times, whether you’re around your house or you’re out. This (carjacking) is a good example,” Johnson said. “I say don’t live in fear but be alert, be aware, pay attention.”

Staying physically fit and mentally alert will help, according to Johnson.

“Use common sense. Don’t park in dark places. Look around, see who’s around. Go back in the store,” Johnson said, “if something doesn’t look right and get a security person to go back with you.”

And at home, residents are become more aware by locking doors and installing security cameras, according to Johnson. He also recommends closing blinds and turning on talk radio when leaving home and installing motion-detector lights on all exterior doors as crime deterrents.

Taking these precautions, while out in public and in our homes, should make all of us feel more secure. Hopefully, this will be the last carjacking in Lincoln.