Hijacking is a very real and dangerous possibility in South Africa, here are some especially important tips to help you in an unfortunate event of a hijacking.
It is starting to sound like a cliché, but the worst thing any driver can do is allow themselves be distracted while driving. Take note of vehicles around and behind you – hijackers often follow their victim’s home – so you want to be able to pick up if a vehicle is following you. If you are unsure, do not stop, but drive to the nearest public place or police station.
Know when you are most at risk
Criminals tend to wait in driveways, or even inside the yard, knowing this is where people feel safe and tend to be less on guard, and therefore easier targets.
Keep it tidy Be aware of hiding places along your driveway or near your gate / garage. Large trees, shrubs and hedges look beautiful, but they also provide the perfect hiding place for hijackers.
Have a ‘system’
Survey the area, be aware of any potential hiding places, and if there is someone at home ask them to turn on exterior and even internal lights, so that it is obvious to onlookers there are other people around. This will often work as a deterrent.
Train your children
One of the most terrifying situations anyone can face is a hijack situation with their children in the car. If you have young children, our best advice is to do a reputable hijack prevention course as it teaches you how to prepare yourself and your children if you are ever faced with the situation. They key point to remember is that they are after the car – if you stay calm you and your children stand a much better chance of getting away without injury as most hijackers simply want to get away with the vehicle as soon as possible. It is good advice to run your kids through a few scenarios so that they know to stay calm and follow your instructions.
Give them the car
This may sound obvious, but our first instinct when someone tries to take away a car that probably cost a small fortune, is to argue or resist. However, it is not worth it. If you ever find yourself in this situation surrender your vehicle and keys immediately and then try to put as much distance between yourself and the vehicle as possible. Do not run or agitate them in any way, but gradually back away from the car making it clear to them that they are free to go. If they must choose between going after the vehicle or you, they will choose the vehicle, it is what they came for.
Do not stop for obstacles in the road
A tried and true trick that many hijackers employ is littering deserted roads with brick, rocks or other obstacles. If you hit one of these, do not stop if your car is still in driving condition. Make your way to a safe and populated area before checking your car.
Take it slow
If you are driving late at night, or along quiet roads, you want to avoid standing still at red lights, as this is the perfect opportunity for hijackers to attack. The best solution is to start slowing down long before your reach the traffic lights, giving them a chance to turn green before you need to come to a complete standstill. Naturally, you need to be very aware of your surroundings.
Mind the gap
Hijackings occur everywhere, even in the middle of traffic during the middle of the day. When you stop behind a car at a traffic light, make sure you leave enough room for escape. Hijackers often use traffic as an opportunity because they know you are boxed in. By leaving space behind the car in front of you, you at least have some wiggle room to make an escape.