The Methodist Church in Brackenhurst recently hosted their monthly men’s breakfast and invited Linda Goodenough, community development manager of Fidelity ADT, to address the group on anti-hijacking safety tips.
Goodenough confirmed that unfortunately hijackings remain an issue around the country and residents should not become complacent. “We continue to see incidents of follow-home hijackings and opportunistic hijackings throughout the year. Anyone who drives a car is at risk and needs to be aware and cautious,” she says.
Four main tips to keep in mind:
- Drivers must not wait in the road or in their driveways if they suspect they are being followed. Wait for any cars to pass you and wait until the car is a far distance away before entering your property. If you have a panic button or a mobile security app, have it on and on hand just in case.
- If you have children in the car, the youngest child should be seated behind the driver and the oldest to the left. The National Hijack Prevention Academy recommends this. The reason for this is if you are hijacked and need to get out of the car, you can move quickly from the driver’s door to the door directly behind it. You can reach across the eldest child to unstrap the younger child. The eldest child can cling to you as you remove them both together.
- Become more alert the closer you get to home, checking for strangers or strange cars in their street. Turn your radio off, put your cellphone down, tell the kids to be quiet and concentrate on your surroundings as you approach home. Please report anything suspicious to your security provider or the SAPS immediately.
- Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because you live in a complex with guards. We have seen incidents of hijackings right in front of the guard houses at complex entrances. 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.
She explained that in the unfortunate event that you are hijacked, you need to 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 Goodenough, 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 says.
Richard Rudling, Head of the Brackenhurst Methodist Church Mens Fellowship Committee concludes, “The talk was very relevant and well received. If everybody could just look out for one another more, South Africa would be a much better place.”