Knoxville (WVLT) - The element of surprise is what someone depends on when they have their eyes on stealing your car, with you at the wheel.
"They don't want you thinking about it, they don't want you planning what you're going to do," says Mike MacLean with the Knoxville FBI.
So what can you do to protect yourself? First, Cpt. Keith Lambert with the University of Tennessee Police Department says always have your windows rolled up, and your doors locked.
"That should just be a given, most of your newer cars I think the doors lock automatically but if they don't, and you've had to get out, and if it's not relocked, you should lock your door."
Experts also say to have someone time you to see how long it takes to actually get inside your car and get it moving. This is how much time you have to get away if you think someone's following you.
"Know your surroundings, be aware of persons around you as your coming out to get in your vehicle, particularly if it's dark, or late at night," says MacLean.
Cpt. Lambert says when you're stopped behind another car, leave enough room to see the tires in front of you.
"So if you need to go out and go around that vehicle to the left or around to the right you're not pinned in there."
Also when you're stopped, pay attention to your blind spots.
"If you come in this area toward the vehicle like this, you'll never be able to see the person until they're right up here on you," says Cpt. Lambert.
But what if they're at your window with a weapon?
"They've got their hand on the trigger, that's not the time to argue, that's not the time to struggle, that's not the time to do anything but comply and if possible, drop your keys, scream and run," says MacLean.
If you find yourself in this situation, it's also important to make a lot of noise with your car horn or car alarm. Officers say this will make people around you aware of the problem, and the carjacker may even decide to leave you alone.
For more tips to protect yourself, click on the following links.