Carjackers use questions as bait to lure victims

Published 11:52 am Friday, January 30, 2015

A deadly encounter can begin with a simple question.

Robbers across the state, particularly in the Jackson metro area, are perpetrating carjackings that begin by them walking up to a vehicle at a gas station or stoplight and asking for directions or cash, Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong told members of Triad on Wednesday.

Once the victim is engaged or distracted, the robbery begins, he said. Victims of a carjacking should not try to fight their attacker unless the attacker is attempting to kidnap them, Armstrong said.

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“The point of a gun makes a very powerful statement. If a carjacker threatens you with a weapon, by all means give up your vehicle. Do not put up a fight. Your life is worth much more than that vehicle,” Armstrong said.

Few carjackings have occurred in Vicksburg since Amrstrong took office in 2009, but one theft had deadly results. On March 7, 2011, two escaped prisoners from Louisiana carjacked and kidnapped David Cupps of Sunbury, Ohio, from a hotel off Pemberton Square Boulevard. Cupps body and car were found the next day in Bessemer, Ala.

Darian “Drake” Pierce of Bogalusa, La., and Ricky L. Wedgeworth of Memphis pleaded guilty to kidnapping Cupps and were sentenced to life in prison. The two had escaped from Louisiana State Police Headquarters

“Your chances of being a carjacking victim is very slim,” Armstrong said. “However in the surrounding areas, carjacking happens on almost a daily basis.”

Earlier this month, Jackson police charged three teens with murder and said they were suspects in a string of carjackings in the metro area. They are also suspected in a carjacking and attack on a Clarion-Ledger newspaper carrier in Yazoo City.

Robbers are also staging car crashes where they will bump into the back of a vehicle in hopes that the driver will get out and leave the car running, Armstrong said.

“When you do that, the passenger or driver will jump into your vehicle and drive off,” he said. “The safest bet is to call 911 and wait for law enforcement to arrive on the scene,” he said.

Triad, which is a partnership between law enforcement, emergency services and senior adults, meets at 2 p.m. the last Wednesday of each month in the Vicksburg City Hall Annex.