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Teen carjackers stole her keys — but weren’t ready for a stick shift, Tenn. cops say

Only around 10 percent of vehicles made in North American now have manual transmissions, down from 35 percent in 1980, according to the Associated Press.
Only around 10 percent of vehicles made in North American now have manual transmissions, down from 35 percent in 1980, according to the Associated Press. AP

On their second attempted carjacking Wednesday, two teenage boys came face to face with the most frightful and insurmountable of obstacles, according to police.

A manual transmission.

Moments earlier, the 15-year-old and 17-year-old had taken the car keys from a woman walking through a parking lot to a Kroger grocery store in Nashville, Tennessee, police said in a press release on Thursday. Then the teenagers hopped in her car.

But a few seconds later, the pair apparently realized the car had a stick shift, meaning they weren’t going to be able to drive off with it, according to Nashville police.

So the pair did what those who are unable to drive stick have done since the dawn of the automatic transmission — they ran away from the daunting vehicle, police said.

You can hardly blame the teenage suspects for expecting an automatic transmission: Edmunds, a car-shopping website, has found that vehicles with manual transmissions account for less than 3 percent of U.S. car sales right now, The Associated Press reports.

Officers in the area arrested the two teenage suspects soon after, according to police. Their names have not been released.

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About an hour earlier, at 6:20 p.m., the pair had gone after another woman who was sitting in a car, police said. That woman’s car was in a parking garage.

The suspects ran up to her car and each opened a door -- one on the driver’s side and the other on the passenger side. Then they screamed at the woman to get out, according to police.

When she didn’t get out, the teenagers tried dragging the woman from the vehicle, police said. The woman began shouting and blaring her horn, and the teenagers ran away.

Each of the teenagers has been charged with attempted theft of a vehicle, attempted robbery/carjacking and theft of property in juvenile court, police said.

Watch News & Observer columnist Josh Shaffer gently guide senior editor Dan Barkin, 62, through the trials and tribulations of driving a manual transmission car.

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