Why you should keep your car doors locked when driving

A friend of Rhye's who lives in Lexington, Texas was kidnapped at gun-point a week and a half ago while in her car. The kidnapper forced her to drive to Oklahoma City over the next several hours, where she was finally able to get away. She called Rhye a few days ago to tell her what happened and to let Rhye know about her story appearing in the the local newspaper.

The newspaper's links (if you can call them that) are kind of hard to follow. Here are the links to the three parts of her story:

Part 1 - Front Page - "Lexington Woman Abducted at Gun-Point in Broad Daylight"

Part 2 - Lifestyles Page - Scroll down to "Abduction (Cont'd from Front Page)"

Part 3 - Church Page - Scroll down to "Abduction (Cont'd from Lifestyles)"

Rhye told me her friend is still pretty shaken up from the incident. It wouldn't surprise me if it took her weeks or even months to recover from her ordeal.

Rhye asked me what I might have done. A situation as dangerous as that one has to be constantly evaluated to decide whether a particular action is too dangerous or not, and I wasn't there.

Given that, a number of options are possible at a convenience store / gas station while you're filling up the car with gas. I would have considered any or all of the following:

  • Tell the clerk to call 911 immediately and report a kidnapping.

  • Write a quick note to the clerk with "Call 911 - Kidnap" and my license plate number on it.

  • Give the clerk my drivers license and tell them to call the police and report a kidnapping.

  • Ask the clerk to lock the front doors, go hide in the back of the store, and call the police.

  • Tell the clerk to activate their silent robbery alarm (if they have one).

Most of these require a lot of confidence in the clerk: the clerk needs to be intelligent enough to understand the situation quickly, to believe you are telling the truth, and to act quickly and discreetly. Police response time needs to be rapid as well - if the police can't get on the scene within 5 minutes, the situation would get a lot worse before it got better by involving the clerk and the store.

If I thought it was likely that the kidnapper would kill me in some secluded area, I told Rhye that one drastic option that I would consider is to crash the car into a bridge pylon. Just before I did, I'd check my seat belt to make sure it was snug, and hopefully, the kidnapper won't be wearing his.

Rhye's friend was able to escape her kidnapper because he was stupid and she took advantage of the opportunity that presented itself. The kidnapper 1) got out of the car, 2) turned his back on his victim, 3) put his gun by into his back pocket (took his hands off of the gun), and 4) then put both hands down his pants. For Rhye's friend's sake, I'm glad he was a dumbass.

Update 16-Aug-2003: The above links to the story in The Lexington Leader are now broken. The story has rotated into the newspaper's archives, with only Part 1 available there. Part 2 and Part 3 are nowhere to be found. I have sent an e-mail to the newspaper, requesting permission to reprint the entire story here on my blog. It will be interesting to see what their response is.