Hijacking: 7 ways to avoid becoming a statistic

The latest figures from the SA Police Service show that 66 cars are being stolen daily across South Africa – an increase of 6.5% from 2023. Information from Tracker shows that hi-jackings account for 55% of vehicle crime incidents among their customer base.

So how do you reduce your chances of becoming the latest statistic? It’s all about staying alert when you’re behind the wheel, says King Price’s client experience partner, Wynand van Vuuren. Here are his top tips to avoid being hijacked.

Time your trips, if possible
SAPS reports that criminals are now operating more frequently earlier in the day. Hi-jackings account for 54% of vehicle thefts between 5am and noon, 47% from noon to 9pm, and 25% from then until 5am. You’re most likely to be hijacked on a Friday (between 3pm and 10pm) and have your car stolen on a Saturday (between 11am and 3pm).

Know the hotspots
While shopping malls remain a primary hotspot, data also flags sporting and school events as primary hunting grounds for hi-jackers and thieves. It makes sense to keep your car safely in your garage and rather hail a ride (like Uber) to sports matches, especially if you’re going to have a few cold ones while you’re there.

Check whether you’re being followed
One of the most common places people are hijacked is their own driveway. If you think you’re being followed, don’t turn into your driveway – rather keep driving. If the car stays behind you, drive directly to the nearest police station or armed response hub. And even if there’s no-one around you, don’t drive straight into your driveway: if you’re able to, remain in the road while your gate is opening, so that you have some space to get away if you see a suspicious vehicle approaching.

Watch out for cars slowing down
There’s an increasing trend of hijackers stopping suddenly on a highway off-ramp or busy street. When you stop, they take your car at gunpoint. Another modus operandi is for the hijackers to bump into your car from behind, to make you pull over and assess the damage.

Be aware of your surroundings
When stopped at intersections, don’t check your messages or fiddle with the car radio. Stay alert to what’s happening around you, and watch out for any potential threats. Keep your windows closed and your doors locked, and leave enough room in the traffic to avoid getting boxed in.

Don’t be a hero
If a hijack happens, just give up your car and your possessions. Move slowly. Keep your hands visible, and don’t look directly at the hijackers. If you have children in the car, tell the hijacker that you’re going to take a few seconds to get them out. Don’t get involved in verbal or physical altercations. Your life is worth more than your earthly possessions.

Make sure you’re covered
Make sure that your car insurance cover is up to date and that you do what’s required of you. Also, check whether your policy offers emergency assistance, in case anything happens to you, and make sure that you’ve saved the number on your phone.

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