Hijacking – it’s a frightening topic that no one enjoys talking about but unfortunately, it needs to be addressed and it’s important that all South Africans are well informed of the latest trends that criminals employ to get their hands on your vehicle.
Hijackings in South Africa increased 14.5 percent between 2016 and 2017, according to the South African Police Service (SAPS), and some 30,664 South Africans were victims, the 2016/17 Victims of Crime Survey revealed. On average, that was 84 hijackings per day.
This form of crime is most common in Gauteng, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape.
“Hijackers are pouncing on unsuspecting vehicle owners wherever the opportunity presents itself,” said Warwick Scott-Rodger, executive head of Dialdirect. “Theirs is a multimillion-rand industry in which anything from a meticulously planned hijacking to more opportunistic hits are just another day at the office. South African vehicle owners have to take this very seriously and be thoroughly prepared.”
According to Dialdirect‘s crime statistics, the top five vehicle hijacking trends are:
1. Vehicles hijacked at fuel stations
Motorists are approached by assailants at fuel stations while filling up with fuel. Hijackers approach the driver from his or her blind spot and force the driver out of the vehicle.
2. Stranger danger
Vehicle owners are approached at social spots by strangers who try to befriend them and later spike their drinks, take their keys and make off with their vehicle.
3. Blue-light robberies
Vehicle owners are pulled over by imposters posing as traffic or police officials — often in unmarked vehicles. Once they are pulled over, they are overpowered and their vehicles taken.
4. Vehicles taken in house robberies
Vehicle owners are overpowered in their homes and vehicles are taken along with other possessions.
5. Vehicle hijacked after driver is followed home.
Assailants follow vehicles home, after which owners are boxed in and hijacked in their driveway. Assailants often wait for the owner to enter the property and then block the security gate from closing behind them.
If you find yourself in a hijack situation, there are a few golden rules to follow that may save your life:
- Do whatever they ask, your possessions or vehicle are not as important as your own life.
- As difficult as it may sound, try to remain calm. Do not lose your temper or make any threats or aggressive gestures.
- Do not make any sudden movements, especially leaning over with your right hand to undo your seatbelt. This could be mistaken for reaching for a weapon. Make sure your hand movements are slow and steady and clearly visible to them.
- Avoid eye contact as much as possible, it may cause the criminal to feel threatened. They may also fear that you have seen their face or have noticed something about them that will provide a way to identify them.
- At all times, let the hijackers know what you are doing and do not make any sudden movements.