Hijacking is a fear that all of us South Africans have to live with. The South African Police Service recently revealed that a car gets hijacked in the country every 41 minutes. Rather alarmingly, vehicle theft has decreased by 2.7%, but carjacking and truck hijacking have both increased dramatically at 14.2% and 29.1% in the last year, according to crime statistics released in September 2015.
Crime statistics released by the Minister of Police Nathi Nhleko and police commissioner Riah Phiyega revealed that the province most affected by hijacking and vehicle theft is Johannesburg. According to Frans Cronje, from the SA Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR), the reason for the increase in hijacking is because criminals have adapted to the improved security in cars and tracking devices and therefore now rather resort to car hijacking.
Research undertaken by Arrive Alive reveals that most hijackings occur between 5pm and 8pm, when people are heading home from work. However one should always remain vigilant at any time of day.
To help you avoid becoming the next statistic, take note of some handy tips:
- Have your key ready but not visible.
- Once in your vehicle, ensure that your vehicle is locked at all times.
- Plan your route ahead of time and notify someone of your chosen route and when you can be expected to arrive.
- Be aware of someone following you; always check the rear view mirror.If you suspect you are being followed, drive to your nearest police station or a busy public area.
- Avoid driving with your windows open, especially when you vehicle has come to a halt.
- Ensure all valuables are out of sight.
- Avoid distractions while driving such as using a cell phone.
- When approaching a red traffic light, slow down so that you only reach it when it turns green.
- Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear of shrubbery.
- When stopping behind another vehicle, leave half a vehicle length in front so you can make an emergency escape if necessary.
- Change your routes and your schedule if possible on a regular basis.
- Make arriving at your destination safer by calling ahead and asking someone to open and close your gate for you.
There are also seven golden rules to follow if you are confronted by a hijacker:
- Remain calm.
- Do not argue.
- Do not make sudden gestures.
- Avoid eye contact but try to remember what the carjacker looked like by identifying and remembering special features.
- Comply with the hijackers directions, within reason.
- Try and get away from the area as quickly as possible.
- Don’t be a hero – your life is worth more than your car.
Stay alert and stay safe!