When it comes to car hijackings, Gauteng comes out tops (23 per day), followed by KwaZulu Natal (7 per day) and Western Cape (6 per day) according to the official 2018 SAPS statistics. This effectively means 45 cars are hijacked every day in South Africa and the majority of these occur in home driveways.
According to Briefly.co.za, the five most hijacked cars in South Africa include the Volkswagen Polo, Toyota Hilux and other Toyota models, Ford Ranger, BMW X5 and Chevrolet Spark. Briefly.co.za says these models are selected based on their demand in the market and the prospect of valuable items being found in luxury vehicles.
Private Security company, Fidelity ADT, says with over 60% of all hijackings taking place close to home, knowing what to look out for and how to prevent falling prey to hijackers is a very pertinent topic.
Within the Fidelity ADT footprint itself Mondays and Tuesdays have shown the highest number of reported hijackings. “There also appears to be a slight uptick around 13:00-14:00 which could be due to increased traffic during lunch hours. The highest number of reported incidents in our experience however tend to take place between 19:00 and 20:00 during peak traffic times and where there is reduced visibility at night,” says Hattingh.
“Being aware of your surroundings and knowing how to respond if you find yourself in a hijacking situation is critical,” says Charnel Hattingh, National Marketing & Communications Manager of Fidelity ADT.
Fidelity ADT has partnered with the National Hijack Prevention Academy to offer drivers the following safety hints and tips:
- If you suspect you are being followed, put your indicator on and slow down at least two to three houses prior to your home. If you are being followed, you will force the vehicle behind you to pass and this could cause the criminals to lose interest.
- If you need to stop in your driveway to manually open the gate, always leave the key in the ignition and the motor running unless you have a child in the car. Only then should you take the key with you as you open the gate. The key is a valuable negotiating tool – they want your car and you want your child.
- Always make sure you can see the back wheels of the car in front of you when you stop in the traffic. This gives you enough room to maneuver and escape.
- Don’t fall for the “tap tap” trap where a driver taps the back of your car in traffic. They often use lady drivers as decoys here. Never get out of your car on the scene to assess the damage but rather drive to a busy location. Signal to the other driver to follow you. If it is not legitimate they will seldom follow you.
- If you stay in a secure complex with security guards, do not be fooled into thinking you are safe. You can easily be followed into your complex so always remain vigilant. Research shows that most people relax the closer they get to home and this is often when they are most vulnerable.
In the unfortunate event that you are hijacked, how do you give your car over in a non-threatening manner?
“The first and golden rule is to not antagonise the hijackers who are probably more scared than you are. You need to show them you are not a threat. Lift up your arms to show you have no weapon and will surrender. Use your left arm to undo your seatbelt and put your car in neutral.”
Do not turn off your car, says Hattingh, and get out slowly. “Try and angle your body sideways so you are not facing a firearm head-on. Also remember to protect your head with your arms and avoid direct eye contact with the hijackers but try to take in what they are wearing, the sound of their voices, etc. Most importantly try to remain calm,” she concludes.