As crime and unemployment increase, hijacking becomes a more frequent occurrence with an average of 28 hijackings a day. Usually run by syndicates that need the car for parts or drug trade, hijacking has become a highly organised and even violent business.
According to Arrive Alive, hijackings occur every day, however the peak day for this crime is on Fridays, due to motorists being more relaxed and thus vulnerable to attack. They say syndicates tend to plan restock on weekends and on Mondays, so the occurrence of hijackings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are also high due to the need to replenish “stock”.
“While hijacking is a concern for all drivers, women in particular are often concerned about their safety and that of their children,” says Theunis Kotze, ADT General Manager Inland Region.
ADT works closely with the founder of the National Hijack Prevention Academy, Richard Brussow, in educating the community about what to do and how to react in the event of a hijacking.
“Statistics indicate that children are seldom taken in hijackings – in fact, it only happens in six out of 24 000 cases. Criminals know that when children are involved, their crime escalates to a priority crime which will attract a lot of attention; the last thing criminals want is a lot of attention,” Brussow says.
The most important thing for women travelling with children to remember is that the eldest child should always be seated behind the driver and the younger child to the left. Kotze explains:
“If you are hijacked while your children are in the car, climb out of the vehicle slowly and move to the back door directly behind the driver’s door. Place one foot firmly in the car, on the floor behind the driver’s seat, as you lean across to retrieve the youngest child. The eldest child will probably cling to you and you can get both children out of the car at once. Remember to stay as calm as possible. If the hijackers panic and the vehicle starts moving before you have your children out of the car, your firm footing in the vehicle will throw your body weight into the car with your children, as opposed to you being left behind and the hijackers speeding off with your children.”
Here are more helpful hijack prevention tips from ADT and the National Hijack Prevention Academy:
- Remember that 68% of all hijackings occur close to home so be especially vigilant when pulling out of your driveway or coming home. 16:00 – 20:00 are the most dangerous times for hijackings.
- If you have an electric gate, do not pull into your driveway before opening the gate. This can allow hijackers to box you in. Rather open your gate while your car is still in the road to allow a quick getaway if necessary.
- If you suspect you are being followed, put your indicator on and slow down at least two to three houses prior to your home. By doing this, you force the vehicle behind you to pass and you can then get a better idea of their intentions.
- 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. If your child is in the car, take the key with you as you open the gate. The key is a valuable negotiating tool – the criminals 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 manoeuvre and escape if you have to, for whatever reason.
- Don’t fall for the “tap tap” trap where a driver taps the back of your car in traffic. They often use female 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.
What to do if you are hijacked
- The first and golden rule: Do not antagonise the hijackers. 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.
- Be cautious not to use your right arm to lean across your body and undo your seatbelt or unlock the door. This could be construed as you reaching for a gun.
- Do not switch off your car.
- Get out slowly and 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 to lift your shoulders to protect your neck area.
- Do not turn your back on the hijackers – your organs are most exposed from the back.
- Avoid direct eye contact with the hijackers but still try to take in what they are wearing, the sound of their voices, etc.
Kotze says finally once the hijackers have left you need to call the SAPS on 08600 10111, thereafter any emergency numbers on a cellphone by dialling 112 on any network or 147 on Vodacom lines.
“A hijacking can be a terrifying and traumatic experience. Do not be afraid to speak to a friend or counsellor after the experience. The easiest way to deal with the event is to have someone to speak to,” concludes Kotze.