Berry College Police Department warns students of potential car-jackings

Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier News Editor

Cassie LaJeunesse, Campus Carrier Editor-in-Chief

Over the past few weeks, there have been multiple incidents of attempted car-jacking on Martha Berry Highway, from John Davenport Drive NW to W 9th street NE.

The car-jackings occur when a driver sees someone acting disabled or in harm on the side of the road, and stop to try offer assistance. But once the driver pulls over to help, the disabled person then attempts to steal the car by either jumping into the car or pulling the victim out of the car.

Lieutenant John Walters of the Rome Police Department has seen a few of these attacks occur and wants to warn Berry students of the danger that can happen.

He explains that on April 7, an elderly woman was attacked in her car while stopped at a red light on North Fifth Avenue. The man who attacked her was under the influence and had been dancing on the side of the road, as well as throwing shoes at passing cars.

“When [she] stopped, he went running across the road and leaped through her open window, into the front driver’s seat…and began fighting with her inside the car,” Walters said.

Several passers by witnessed the incident and helped the woman get the man out of her car and hold him down while waiting for the police to arrive.

“This type of behavior, people just stepping off the curve, either walking in front of cars, whether on purpose or on accident due to their mental state, is very high in that area,” Walters said.

These people, as Walters described, wear dark clothing and usually walk around at dusk and during the night. They are also very persistent and he explained that they usually do not understand when people are trying to turn them away.

Chief of campus police Jonathan Baggett wanted to make students aware of what is going on not only because they are constantly traveling through this area, but also because of their natures.

“We have a lot of good-natured students who have a good heart and are wanting to help, and if they see a homeless person they may try to give them money, they need to be really careful doing that in that area,” Baggett said.

With the end of the semester, there are also a lot of students travelling down to Broad Street, and Baggett believed that students should understand what is happening in their community, and how to deal with situations like this.

If students are ever in an unsafe situation, Baggett urged them to always dial 911 and keep their car locked. He also explained that if someone ever approaches a student, the best way to handle them is to be persistent in saying no, and to draw attention to the situation. If they do this, then bystanders will be notified of what is going on, and the person causing the situation will likely walk away.

One of the main things to remember, as Baggett stated, is to never give in to their wishes.

“Don’t ever think that just giving a dollar or two will make them go away,” Baggett said. “They are going to want all they can get.”

Walters encouraged students to always be aware of what is going around them while they are driving, especially in this area.

“Be aware of your surroundings,” Walter said. “Don’t assume everything’s safe just because you’re in your car. When you’re traveling in that particular area, be on the inside lane instead of the curb lane.”

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