It starts with prevention. Hijackings in South Africa are an unfortunate reality and while there’s not much that we as drivers can do to stop the next criminal from attempting a hijacking, we can safeguard ourselves against becoming a victim.
There are a number of hijack prevention tips to take heed of when travelling on SA’s roads, and below you’ll find everything you need to know to better your chances of avoiding a dangerous situation like this in the first place. But first, let’s take a look at some Modus Operandi by hijackers…
DID YOU KNOW?
- Most hijackings take place in the driveways of residential areas. These hijackers prefer areas with accessible escape routes.
- Hijackings take place while stationed at any traffic sign or intersection.
- Hijackings take place while stationary next to the road, e.g. to answer a cell phone.
- Hijackings also occur at post offices and parking areas or you may be followed leaving the filling station with the objective to hijack your vehicle where it is quiet.
- The hijackers sometimes use a vehicle to force the victim off the road.
- Hijackings take place at schools when dropping off / picking up children.
- Hijackings take place while the vehicle is idling when off-loading / loading passengers.
- Hijackings take place when advertising your vehicle for sale (Test drive method).
- Bogus Police or Traffic Officers also conduct hijackings (Blue light scenario).
How to avoid a hijacking situation
Arrive Alive lists the following preventative tips that every women should know:
Approaching and entering your driveway:
- 2km from your house strategy. Be extra alert. Switch off the car radio and concentrate on your surroundings. If you have noticed any vehicle behind you, use the techniques you have learned during the hijack prevention & survival course to determine whether you are being followed.
- Remember to stop your vehicle just on the inside of the gate and select reverse whilst waiting for the gate to close. This creates confusion and may buy you a few seconds for the gate to close completely behind you.
- Check your driveway and street before you leave or enter your premises.
- Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear from shrubbery where perpetrators can hide.
- Be aware of unknown pedestrians close to your residential address – do not turn into your driveway – pass and go back later.
- Liaise with your neighbours – know them.
- Be aware of vehicles parked close to your address with occupants inside. It might be perpetrators observing the area.
- Be alert if your animals do not greet you at the gate as usual. It might be that the perpetrators over-powered them.
- Phone your home and ask for someone to make sure your driveway is safe and to open and close the gate for you.
- When returning home after dark, ensure that an outside light is on, or have someone meet you at the gate. Check with your armed response company if they are rendering rendezvous services.
- If at any time you have to open the gate yourself, make sure nobody suspicious around and the road is clear. Stop right in front of your gate. Do not switch off the vehicle, leave the key in the ignition, get out and close the door (not creating temptation). Then open the gate. Drive in and close the gate immediately behind you.
- If you have small children in the vehicle, take the key with you (this is the only exception). You need the key as a “negotiating tool”. The perpetrators want your vehicle and you want your children.
- If your children are older, it is advised that they exit the vehicle with you when opening the gate so that you are all separated from the vehicle should an attack occur.
Parking your vehicle:
- Check rear-view mirror to ensure you are not being followed.
- When exiting your vehicle, be cautious and aware of surrounding obstructions and shrubbery that may be concealing a hijacker.
- Never sit in your parked vehicle without being conscious of your surroundings. Sleeping in a stationary vehicle is particularly dangerous.
- When approaching your driveway, be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles/persons. This is very important as the majority of hijackers approach their victims in home driveways.
Whilst entering your vehicle and while driving, the following should be considered:
- Have your key ready, but not visible.
- Inspect the outside and inside of the vehicle before unlocking. Check underneath your vehicle for items placed under the wheels. Also, make sure nobody is hiding on the passenger side before you enter your vehicle. (As explained during the hijack prevention & survival course)
- Know your destination and directions to it, and be alert should you get lost.
- Always drive with your windows closed and doors locked.
- Make a mental note of any Police Stations in the vicinity.
- When stopping behind another vehicle, leave half a vehicle length in front of your vehicle to make an emergency escape if necessary.
- When dropping off a passenger, make sure they are safe in their own vehicle before departing.
- Avoid driving through high crime or unfamiliar areas.
- Avoid driving late at night / early hours of the morning when the roads are quiet.
- Drive in the centre lane away from pedestrians where possible.
- If possible, never drive alone.
- NEVER, EVER pick up hitchhikers or strangers. (VERY IMPORTANT)
- Never follow routine routes when driving; change on a regular basis.
For more information about hijackings in South Africa click here.