As crime increases and unemployment looms hijacking becomes a more frequent occurrence. Usually run by syndicates that need the car for parts or drug trade, hijacking has become a highly organised and even violent business.
Hijackings occur every day, however the peak day for this crime is on Fridays, due to motorists being more relaxed and thus vulnerable to attack. Syndicates tend to plan restock on weekends and on Mondays, so the occurrence of hijackings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are high due to the need to replenish “stock”.
Days of the week and times of day in which hijackings occurred:
Between the hours of 4 and 8pm poses the highest risk for hijackings. Hijackers like to take advantage of these peak traffic hours as these allow for easy escapes. However people arriving back from a day of work are a target (just as people heading for the day are). Getting in and out of a driveway make you a target, the quicker and more vigilantly you can do this the better. Leaving your car to idle while you open a gate makes you incredibly vulnerable.
Pistol and revolver firearms are the most common means of committing a “violent” hijacking with Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal being the most violent and hijack-prone provinces. However, there has been much ado about what to do in a situation where one wishes to fire back in an act of self-defence. These are guidelines to follow to know when you are in your rights to defend yourself:
Firstly, ask yourself, is the attack unlawful and has it started? You cannot harm anyone that has not showed signs of an attack upon you. The attack also needs to be incomplete, as you cannot retaliate once a certain amount of time has passed. You may also only retaliate against the attacker and not any innocent bystanders. If you do anything other than out of an act of self-defence than you will more than likely find yourself facing criminal charges.
Hijackings come in different forms as each hijacker has an intended purpose. Freight hijackings often have the goal of stealing the cargo a truck is carrying. Transport hijacking is when the vehicle hijacked will be used in the transport process – for drugs, robberies, gun running etc. Often gangs participate in what is called Showmanship hijacking, which can be a form of initiation or bravado into entering the gang. Operational hijacking when a group will work together, usually with knowledge of the hijacking underworld, to take your vehicle from you. Lastly, Syndicate hijacking is organised hijacking this has links with international connections. The boss of the syndicate remains out of view while people do the “dirty work” for them. Often this kind of hijacking is wrapped up in a lot of money and often the “boss” can bribe authorities.
Some of the methods used by hijackers are to target people in quiet areas with easily accessible escape routes, driveways, intersections, stops and pull over zones. Shopping centre parking lots or filling stations can be good zones to hijack or even scout and follow you for a potential hijacking. An idle, unmanned vehicle is always a large target. Even more devious are hijacking “test drives” or “police or blue light” hijackings. This is incredibly deceiving as people pose as innocent citizens or even police to get your vehicle.
You will never be able to know when an actual hijacking will take place, but there are certain things you can do in order to become more aware and vigilant. These methods will go far to perhaps prevent you from landing up in a hijacking situation:
- As you approach your destination, turn down your radio and become more aware of your surroundings. If you find that someone is following, do not stop, rather try and make your way to the closest police station.
- When pulling into a driveway, park over to the side while a gate opens as this will allow you a swift getaway if need be. When in the driveway and waiting for a gate to close, put the car into reverse, this can create confusion and perhaps buy you more time in a potential hijack situation.
- Ensure your driveway is well lit, with no places for someone to hide and always check your driveway and road before leaving or entering a premise.
- Be vigilant of people lurking outside houses, they could be staking out an area.
- If your animals do not greet you outside like they usually do, be aware that a perpetrator could have overcome them.
- If an attack occurs and you have children, take the key as a negotiating tool, this is the only time you should take a key.
- Never stay in your parked vehicle for too long, the longer you are in a vehicle the more vulnerable to attack you become.
- When walking towards your car have your key handy, but not visible. Try and check your vehicle for any foreign objects.
- Try make a mental note of surrounding police stations
- If stopped behind another vehicle, try leave enough space between it to make a quick escape.
- Driving in the centre lane is generally the safest.
- Never pick up hitchhikers or strangers.
- Lock all doors properly and have windows closed. Do not have bags or valuables in sight in the vehicle.
- When approaching a red traffic light, slow down so that you only end up near it when it’s turned green.
- If necessary and you have stopped to check that its safe. Go through a red light. A fine will be better than an attack.
- Always try keeping a cellphone on your person. A hijacker will not allow you to remove valuables from a vehicle.
If you are approached by or told to pull over by a suspicious police vehicle, then you can signal to them follow you to the nearest police station or even the nearest busy area. Make sure you roll down your window down, put your hazards on and make it very clear your intentions. At the same time the police should be making every effort to alert you to their credibility.
In the event that you are hijacked or your car is stolen make sure you have all necessary documentation to present to the police as quickly as possible. Have all your personal documentation as well as your vehicles details – make, model, colour, registration etc.
If you land yourself in a hostage situation, the best plan of action you can think up is to take in as much detail as you can without provoking or making eye contact with the perpetrator. Remain calm and don’t loose your temper, try do exactly what you are told and don’t worry about valuables. The best thing to do in this situation is to drop to the floor, keep your head down and hands out of the way. These are all key to getting away from the perpetrator as soon as possible.
Once the perpetrator has left the next step of action is to call the SAPS on 08600 10111, thereafter any emergency numbers on a cellphone by dialling 112 on any network or 147 on Vodacom lines.
A hijacking can be a terrifying and traumatic experience. Do not be afraid to speak to a friend or counsellor after the experience. The easiest way to deal with the event is to have someone to speak to.
If you are looking to go on an anti-hijack course or would like more information you can contact:
Cell: 073 161 2344
Tel: (012) 661-1388
Fax: 0866 317 527