Mind of Carjacking Summary
This chapter goes into the minds of 28 currently active carjackers in the St. Louis, Missouri area. What these three authors want to find out is the motivation behind these crimes. Spontaneity, hedonism, the ostentatious display of wealth, and the maintenance of honor are the main points of the reasons why carjackers steal cars. (pg 308, pg 2) They explain that a characteristic of street culture is to show off by buying things of status such as a fancy haircut, nice shoes, clothes, jewelry, etc. Some of the carjackers explained that when they run out of money they will steal a person’s belongings along with their car to get back their “social status” of looking good.
Opportunity is the all important word that dominates carjacking more than it does most other street crimes, because the targets of such offenses are uniquely mobile. A car will present itself, and is gone in a matter of seconds, so there can be no room for hesitation. (pg 308, p3)
One of the chapters labeled “punishing affronts” explains a true story of one of the carjackers. Its start off of the carjacker casually walking home by himself, when suddenly, a car drives by. The driver drives extra slow, blares the music and even gives the guy walking a dirty look. The guy feels like he must steal his car, and does steal it successfully. Even a wrong look given to another on the street is grounds for you to get your car stolen. The look is stab at their status and some just will not have that and instant retaliation is a must.
The carjackers that were interviewed said that stealing a car is a thrill ride. To be in dangerous situations where anything can happen gives them excitement. Crime, in this view, is a dance with danger and the “rush” comes from facing adversarial circumstances and overcoming them through sheer for of will. (pg310, p2) The carjackers said they do not think about being arrested when committing their crime. Stealing a car only takes a couple of seconds, and if they do not see any cops, it’s a green light for go. They get a feeling of control when confronting the drivers of the car they are stealing. “It’s just funny to see them shaking and pissing all over theyself. It’s hilarious. You just get a kick out of seeing them screaming and hollering.” (PoPo, pg311 p2) in conclusion, characteristics of street culture are the reasons carjackers steal cars. Street culture idolizes spontaneity and dismisses rationality and long- range planning. (pg 311, pg2) It seems people in street culture act as if there is no tomorrow, confident that the future will take care of itself. (pg 311, p3) Theory
For this chapter on the immediate experiences of carjacking, I think the most appropriate theory to apply is the phenomenological theory from the constructionist side of theories. The phenomenological theory was constructed by Jack Katz. He explains that the seduction of crime entices criminals. He critiques the positivist view because they do not explain many things. Positivists cannot explain gang violence, commercial robbery, senseless and coldblooded murder. Katz says there are some explanations for these crimes; committing righteous slaughter, mobilizing the spirit of street elite, constructing sneaky thrills, persistent in the practice of stickup as a hard man and embodying primordial evil. (pg 43, p5) One of these critiques is why many who do fit the background categories and later commit the predicted crime go for long stretches without committing the crimes to which the theory directs them. Why are people who were not determined to commit a crime one moment, determined to do so the next? It comes down to what a criminal is feeling, for them to commit a crime. Do they stay within the boundaries of society or break the norms to give into their own selfish needs? Katz see criminality not really as a result of monetary means, unlike most sociologists, but it gives them power which money cannot buy. Committing crime gives the offenders thrills. They are breaking the rules of society and getting away with it, making themselves feel unique and in control. Raising the spirit of criminality requires practical attention to a mode of executing action, symbolic creativity in defining the situation, and esthetic finesse in recognizing and elaborating on the sensual possibilities. Humiliation, righteousness, arrogance, ridicule, cynicism, defilement, and vengeance are all the emotions that feed into the criminalistic acts. Street culture is its own subculture embedded within regular society and to them these types of things occur daily.
I thought this chapter was very good. I didn’t really see a lot wrong with it to criticize. To me crime is very interesting and knowing why carjackers steal cars was great read. Reading this chapter I’ve learned one thing, don’t EVER go to the St. Louis, Missouri area. They steal people’s cars for fun! All kidding aside, the chapter provides great insider information on the motivation behind these acts and the rewards that are produced. Although the chapter was kind of short, I had wished it was a little longer because it kept me reading the whole time. The chapter was a little short on length though, in my opinion. I think I would of liked to of seen some statistics of all auto-theft in the St. Louis area. I didn’t see a single statistic in the chapter. The only number I saw was that they interviewed 28 carjackers. The true life excerpts from the carjackers were probably the best part to read of this chapter. It puts you in a different and very unfamiliar life other than your own, committing crime. I thought it was crazy that someone would actually steal a car from someone, just for the driver giving the guy a dirty look. On the other hand, it made me understand that you can’t just “test” people and expect nothing to come about it. These people live for the moment and the moment can get you in some serious trouble. “Every night is Saturday night, and it’s time to party" (pg311, p2) I also thought the conclusion of chapter was really good. I could not have summarized it any better. It ended the chapter of the immediate experiences of carjacking very well.
Jacobs, B., Topalli, V., & Wright, R. (2010). The Immediate Experiences of Carjacking. In A. Thio, T. Calhoun, & A. Conyers, Readings in Deviant Behavior (pp. 308-311). Boston: Pearson Education Inc.
Class notes from Part 3 Constructionist Theories, Social Deviance
References: Jacobs, B., Topalli, V., & Wright, R. (2010). The Immediate Experiences of Carjacking. In A. Thio, T. Calhoun, & A. Conyers, Readings in Deviant Behavior (pp. 308-311). Boston: Pearson Education Inc. Class notes from Part 3 Constructionist Theories, Social Deviance