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date: 13 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Carjacking is a bold crime characterized by unpredictability and danger. Media reports have identified carjackings throughout the world, and estimates suggest 34,000 occur annually in the United States alone. Research with active offenders has examined carjacking in the context of US street crime, but official reporting inconsistencies and a focus on instrumental motivations hinder a more comprehensive understanding of this crime. The lack of a theoretical framework to analyze the decision-making behaviors of carjackers further complicates the development of effective means to deal with carjacking. With this in mind, this chapter synthesizes the current literature about carjacking and then integrates that synthesis with van Gelder’s “hot/cool” approach to offender decision making. It concludes with a discussion of the implications of this framework for carjacking policy and prevention, and it suggests directions for future research.

Keywords: carjacking, street crime, instrumental motivation, dual-process model, criminal decision making

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