There are countless news stories of vehicle hijackings in South Africa and videos, such as the below now seem like the norm! And while no one was hurt in any of these instances, many hijackings can go horribly wrong – some victims narrowly escape a hijacking and some are not so lucky. We have included the below videos just to illustrate how quickly these situations can occur.
Midrand family narrowly escapes hijacking
Woman robbed of cash & jewellery in Joburg driveway
Durban driver outmanoeuvres armed hijackers
Hijacking in Durban caught on CCTV
Hijacking in Constantia Kloof
So not only are there numerous videos out there of attempted and successful hijackings, the latest statistics released by SAPS paint a depressing picture too – one where hijackings are not only prevalent but are becoming increasingly violent.
SAPS reports that over a 2 month period between March & April 2019 a staggering 16 325 hijacking were reported. This works out to at least one hijacking every 32 minutes across the country. While there are many possible reasons why vehicle hijacking rates are not decreasing, perhaps the most interesting one is increased vehicle security. As owners and manufacturers implement more security features it becomes harder to steal a parked or stationary car, and thus an armed hijacking becomes the only way that car theft syndicates can get their hands on your wheels.
The statistics do also give us insight into the way hijackers and syndicates operate and this information can be used to help keep us a little safer.
- The majority of hijackings take place between 5pm and 8pm when there is more traffic and cars on the road.
- There are a surprising amount of hijackings between 1pm and 2pm (increased traffic over lunch time).
- The majority of hijackings happen close to the victim’s home (over 60%), with driveways being a very popular target.
- Fridays are the most popular days for hijackings, followed by Tuesdays and Wednesdays after syndicates have placed their weekend orders.
So what can we do? There are a number of hijack prevention strategies and below we have outlined some, please have a careful read through and if you have anything to add please leave a comment below, or email Steve on [email protected], we’re all in this together!
OUR COLOUR CODED GREEN, ORANGE, RED ALERT SYSTEM
- Green is when you know you are safe and secure and there’s little chance of danger or the threat of an attack.
- Orange is when there is a moderate threat of danger.
- Red is when an attack is very possible and likely to happen.
Below is how to use the 3 colour coded alert system as it pertains to:
HIJACK PREVENTION TIPS
Approaching your car – you’re now in Red mode
- When you approach your vehicle always have your keys to hand so you can enter your vehicle as smoothly and quickly as possible.
- Also ensure you do a good scan of the exterior of your vehicle and surrounding area – look for anything that might look suspicious or out of place. Remember your gut feel and instinct are there to protect you and they are usually right. So if you’re at all worried, leave the scene and seek appropriate assistance.
- Before entering your vehicle look at the back and passenger seats to ensure your vehicle is empty.
- Once inside, drive away as soon as is reasonably possible because while you’re stationary, and in the car, you’re vulnerable.
On the road – Orange and Red mode
- While you are driving always ensure that your doors are locked and your windows are up. You’re now in Orange mode.
- Slow down and approach all robots, intersections and stop signs cautiously. Remember it’s better to be moving, even slowly than stopped so try to time intersections in a way that you can keep moving. You’re still in Orange mode.
- When you must stop at a stop street or robot leave enough space between you and the other vehicles to ensure you have an effective escape route. Red mode.
- While waiting for the traffic to move you’re in Red mode. Be absolutely alert, do not be distracted and continually scan the area, both in front, behind and to the sides of your car.
- If you are threatened and choose to escape, be decisive and use your car in whatever way you deem fit (including destroying it and other vehicles and property) to make an effective escape. If necessary use your car as a weapon to defeat the hijackers.
- While driving be continually aware of suspicious vehicles following you.
- If there are obstacles in the road such as rocks, reverse or turn around and take another route.
10 minutes from and pulling up to your home – Red mode
- One of the most vulnerable times is when you’re close to home (especially if you’re tired). When you are about 10 minutes away from your house start becoming extra vigilant.
- Switch off your radio, do not chat and remain alert. Look for anything suspicious, as you approach your home such as suspicious pedestrians or vehicles following you – especially if they have their lights off.
- Do not pull up against your gate while you wait for it to open, rather wait in the road so that hijackers cannot box you in.
- Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear from shrubbery where hijackers could hide.
- If you see anything at all suspicious such as a car you don’t know or people on foot, continue driving and circle around to see if they have moved on.
- If you have pets that usually greet you at your gate and they fail to do so, treat the situation as suspicious and act accordingly.
- If you are concerned at all, contact your security company and ask them to meet you at your gate.
- If you plan to get home after dark, ensure that you leave driveway and gate lights on.
- Once inside your property, remain alert and look in the rear view mirror to ensure no one has followed you in.
- You’re still in Red mode until you’re safe inside the house where you switch to Orange or Green.
For more information on staying safe at home, read our article on Understanding & Preventing Home Invasions.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE HIJACKED
If you are unfortunate enough to fall victim to a hijacking, it is important to remember that your possessions are replaceable, but your life isn’t. That’s why it is important to never antagonise or aggravate your hijackers. Do not resist them and avoid taking any actions that might be perceived as a threat.
Leave the keys in the ignition and the engine running and calmly exit your vehicle with your hands clearly visible. If you need to undo your seatbelt make it clear that this is what you are doing and not reaching for a weapon. See demo below. The only exception to this rule is if you have children in your car, make sure that they exit first.
Try to get as far away from the hijackers as they will allow. Once they have left find a phone and firstly call SAPS on 08600 10111 then call other emergency services. Also be sure to activate your vehicle tracking device if your vehicle is fitted with one.
The best advice we can give you is to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings when approaching, driving or exiting your vehicle – this is key to hijack prevention. Practice the use of the Green, Orange and Red modes, it’ll mean you’re not on high alert all the time – but are when it counts most. Treat anything suspicious as the worst case scenario and take appropriate steps to avoid this. When it comes to your safety you can never ever be too careful!
Fore more on safety and security: