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Do you prefer a stick shift for sport or fuel mileage? Recently, a New Jersey man was thankful he opted for three pedals for an unexpected reason. When teenage hoodlums tried to steal his car, he found the best anti-theft device was his manual transmission.

An attempted carjacking

Pleasantville, New Jersey, where a manual transmission thwarted an attempted car-jacked | John Moore/Getty Images
Pleasantville, New Jersey | John Moore/Getty Images

You may have heard of pleas to “save the manuals.” Or you may have read that manual transmissions save money. But you have probably never heard of a manual transmission saving its driver.

Pleasantville, New Jersey, is a 20,000 person town bordering Atlantic City. According to authorities, last Monday, a food delivery driver suffered an attempted carjacking.

The victim was a man in his late 40s. When a customer on West Washington Avenue ordered food around 8 PM, he drove out to deliver it. He stopped to make a delivery around house #300. He parked his 2006 Honda Civic on the street. The night had just dropped below 50 degrees and was getting cold fast. The driver made the fateful decision to leave the car running while he dashed to the door.

A manual transmission saves the day

2006 Honda Civic with a manual transmission proved difficult to steal. | Tim Correira/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images
2006 Honda Civic | Tim Correira/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

While the man was making his deliveries, neighborhood hooligans decided to cause trouble. Two local 15-year-olds approached his car. One jumped into the driver’s seat. Another got into the passenger’s side. They obviously planned to drive away before he could return. There was only one problem: his car was a manual, and the would-be carjackers could not drive stick.

Their failed carjacking must have upset them. Because when the delivery man returned to his car, the teenagers stuck him. They punched him and kicked him. They knocked him to the ground and a third fifteen-year-old even joined them.

Save the manuals

2006 Honda Civic with manual transmission confused Gen Z car thieves. | Fairfax Media via Getty Images
2006 Honda Civic with manual transmission | Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Pleasantville police Lieutenant Stacy Schlachter reported that the driver suffered no serious injuries. The officer added that police arrested all three teens. Police charged the youths with carjacking and aggravated assault then detained them at a juvenile facility.

It is tragic that the delivery driver suffered an attack. But he must be relieved his would-be carjackers did not get away with his Civic. He certainly does not regret buying a manual transmission.

Is a stickshift a smart choice if you are worried about your car being stolen? The news covers multiple stories about manual transmission thwarting would-be thieves. In 2019, FOX10 News reported a similar incident at an Alabama gas station.

Despite multiple incidents, CarBuzz reports that no conclusive data shows manual transmissions as an effective safety device. One thing is certain. Manual transmissions vehicles make up only 2.4% of new car sales; a stickshift in the center console would at least surprise any car thief.


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