The suburban location and the seeming randomness of the act in the Basu case have prompted people to reconsider their notions about where crime may strike.
"In the not-too-distant past, we viewed crime as something that happened to other people. It's not something that happened to nice people like ourselves. The random and violent nature of crime in today's society demonstrates that it's everyone's problem. There but for the grace of God go any of us," says Roberta Roper, the director and founder of the Stephanie Roper Committee and Foundation, a support and advocacy group for victims' rights based in Upper Marlboro. Ms. Roper's daughter, Stephanie, was murdered 10 years ago in Prince George's County.
The Howard County carjacking struck a particular chord among mothers, including Clare Cayce, 31, of Cockeysville. "If it could happen there, that means it could happen anywhere," she said.
Some Marylanders talk about running red lights and stop signs to avoid potentially dangerous situations and say that Dr. Basu's death increases the chances they will do so in the future.
Norma Baron of Phoenix, a former nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the mother of three, recalls driving through red lights at least twice after seeing "not nice-looking fellows at a corner."
For Kim Carusi, the concern is how to protect herself.
"I don't know what else I can do," she says, "except stay at home."
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF (APPEARED ONLY IN THE EVENING SUN)
The American Automobile Association recommends the following tips from law enforcement officials to protect against carjacking:
* Be aware. Look around and maintain an overall picture of your surroundings.
* Choose well-lighted, well-traveled areas. When stopping at a public phone or gas station, park in a well-lighted place where others can see you.
* Keep lights on around your house and driveway.
* Be careful after a minor rear-end accident. If you are bumped from behind and do not feel comfortable getting out of your car, signal the other driver to drive to the nearest police station or public area.
* Keep vehicle locked and the windows rolled up.
* If you are approached by a person with a weapon, comply with any demands to turn over personal belongings, including your car.