Hijacking is on the rise according to the vehicle crime statistics that were released by Tracker for 2020. The lockdown that was implemented earlier on in the year saw a decrease in vehicle crime, but as the lockdown measures were relaxed, the number of vehicle crimes rose again. There are different methods that hijackers use in order to hijack and we will show you how to identify them and how to possibly prevent being hijacked.
The hijacking data considered cases from July 2019 to June 2020 based on Tracker’s vehicle base of more than 1.1 million vehicles indicated that vehicle crime rates increased by 11%; which mostly included hijacking. During the lockdown period, the company saw a decrease of 19% in vehicle crime rates, however after the lockdown measures were lifted, they saw an increase of 62% in vehicle crime activities. Hijacking rates were also a lot higher than theft.
Hijacking uses the element of surprise when trying to catch unsuspecting motorists off-guard. They also tend to threaten or assault their victims with weapons as a method to control them and they will grab, shoot, strike, slap, verbally assault or stab victims. There are also other methods to look out for and these include:
- Hijackers will stop their victims by pretending to be traffic or police officials with unmarked vehicles, the victims will stop and then they are overpowered. The unknowing drivers will be robbed of their valuables and their vehicles.
- Hijackers have also been known to stage ‘minor accidents’ to get other motorists to stop their vehicles. They stage these ‘minor accidents’ by either clipping the back or the side of your vehicle and then ask the motorist to meet them in a lay by.
- Motorists who stop at the side of the road to either relieve themselves or to change their tyres can easily become victims of hijacking and assault.
- Another hijacking method which is known as the “tap tap” method is where the carjacker drives behind their victim, who is often a female, then lightly bump the back of the victim’s vehicle. The victims will usually leave their vehicles and try to assess the damage which is when they have their vehicles stolen.
Hijacking Prevention Tips
There are measures that you can take to avoid falling prey to these hijackings. Here are some safety tips motorists can follow to avoid being hijacked.
- When you are approaching your home, you need to be vigilant. You can switch off your car radio so that you are able to take in your surroundings. Ensure that you are not being followed by a vehicle behind you. If you believe that you are being followed then it is wise to slow down and switch on your hazards three or four houses early as potential criminals will lose interest or be forced to pass by.
- Before you enter or leave your premises, ensure that the street is clear. You should leave your keys in your car if you will need to manually open your gate, unless if you have a small child in the car. If you notice any unknown pedestrians close to your home, do not drive into your driveway, it is advised to pass your home and come back at a later stage.
- You should avoid driving late at night or in the early hours of the morning as the majority of hijackings occur between 11:00 and 13:00 and then between 20:00 and 23:00, especially on Fridays. If you are able to, try to avoid being on the road during these high-risk hours.
- You should try to avoid driving in unfamiliar areas, especially during high risk hours. If you do not have another option then ensure that you plan your routes beforehand or ask someone who is familiar with the routes to assist you. Another measure you can take is to have the person you will be visiting to wait for you just outside the destination.
- You should be vigilant when you fill your car with fuel, especially in the evening as hijackers tend to prey on people at fuel stations. Ensure that all your windows are closed and that your doors are locked. You should only open your window when you need to pay. Be on the lookout for any suspicious movement, especially if where you are parked is dark.
- Do not accept anything from the people that stand at traffic lights or where they are a lot people gathered, such as job seekers. Most perpetrators usually stand amongst these people and will use this as an opportunity to attack you.
- You need to slow down when you are approaching a red traffic light and maintain a good distance, especially when it is late at night. Do not come to a complete stop until the traffic light turns green.
- When you are stationary, ensure that there is enough space for your car to maneuver around. Do not box your vehicle in, you should ensure that you can see the rear tyres of the vehicle that is in front of you.
- When a suspicious and unmarked SAPS vehicle stops you, ask that they identify themselves by either using a blue light, loudspeaker or any police equipment. They can also choose to flash a police badge through the window as the police are supposed to go all out to prove to the public that they are really the police. If you are still unsure of whether the person or vehicle that is pulling you over is an official, you should remain calm and switch on your hazards which shows that you are willing to cooperate, then you should drive to the nearest police station.
- You should use your GPS so that you avoid getting lost. People who look like they are lost are easy targets for hijackers.
- Try to invest in a vehicle tracking device, it is recommended to have one that has a panic button and that has back up tracking in case the primary device is disabled.
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