Carjacking is the crime of auto theft from a person who is present. Typically the carjacker is armed, and the driver of the car is forced out of the car at gunpoint. The word is a portmanteau of car and hijacking.
In the United States, a law was passed in 1992 making carjacking a federal crime, amid a large amount of media attention on an apparent rash of carjacking thefts. This was criticized by Libertarians and states' rights activists who noted that the control of crime is a matter for the states and not the federal government, and opined that carjacking was only made a federal crime in order to make some incumbents appear tough on crime and gain some votes.
The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that in about half of all carjacking attempts, the attacker succeeds in stealing the victim's car. It estimated that between 1987 and 1992, about 35,000 carjacking attempts took place per year, and between 1992 and 1996, about 49,000 attempts took place per year.
Carjacking is also a notable problem in South Africa, and there are warning signs telling people that certain areas are hot-spots. There were 16,000 carjackings in one year (18 times the American rate, per capita), and these result in about 60 murders a year.