Car hijackings are at a decade high in South Africa, which means that motorists should take the utmost care in protecting themselves against this scourge. According to the figures by Crime Stats SA, so far 2016 has seen the highest instances of car hijackings across the country in the last 11 years. With vehicles increasingly being fitted with anti-theft systems, perpetrators are targeting their efforts even more towards the moving vehicle where drivers are vulnerable to the element of surprise.
Most carjackers are armed and act swiftly to rob unwitting motorists of their vehicle and all its contents and this makes it difficult to salvage the situation once it has ensued. What we can do, is be vigilant and try our best to protect ourselves from a potential car hijacking.
There are different types of hijackings that take place in South Africa
Transport Hijacking – the perpetrators target vehicles that they’d like to use for the purpose of transporting goods – mostly illegal substances – or to assist in other crimes such a s robberies or smuggling. These hijacked vehicles are usually discarded or stripped for parts after fulfilling their purpose.
Freight Hijacking – hijackers target large commercial vehicles or trucks to secure the vehicle itself along with the cargo or goods it’s transporting. In some instances, the cargo is the main target.
Initiation/exhibition hijacking – this type of hijacking is usually driven by gangs or crime syndicates to initiate or show off to new members with a hijacking. There’s also no real need for the vehicle in question as the hijacking serves as a platform for ego-driven bravado.
Operational hijacking – the perpetrators are more organised and connected with people in the automotive underworld. They arrange trades for entire vehicles and car parts or sell their loot for cash.
Syndicate hijacking – this is the most organised form of vehicle theft that spreads across international borders and networks. A central organiser would hand out tasks to different individuals or groups with an exact idea of which vehicles need to be hijacked.
Here’s a list of some useful tips to help ensure you and your vehicle are safe at all times
- Do not follow the same route to and from your destinations. Try as much as possible to find alternatives as syndicates might be looking for a pattern in your driving.
- Always know where you’re going. Predetermine your route before getting into the vehicle as this will minimise the possibility of having to stop next to the road or ask for directions.
- Along with knowing where you’re heading, you have to be aware of high risk crime and car hijacking areas. Avoid these at all costs even if the shortest or quickest route to your destination leads you through a dangerous area.
- Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up at all times.
- Space is a crucial element in preventing hijackings. Ensure that there is always a half to full car length space between you and the vehicle in front of you. This can be your getaway gap in the event of an attempted hijacking.
- Most hijacking take place in driveways and in front of residential properties. Set up a homebound strategy that you follow as soon as you are within a predetermined distance from your property. In this close vicinity to your destination, you increase your alertness by turning down the radio, checking your side and rearview mirrors more frequently.
- When you are parking check all your mirrors to gain awareness of your surroundings before you exit the vehicle.
- Avoid sitting in a parked car, especially if you’re reading or busy on your cell phone. This makes you an easy target as your attention is distracted.
- Never ever pick up hitchhikers or strangers. If you see someone that might require roadside assistance rather call the police or metro police to go and assist.
Whether you're driving your own car or a fleet vehicle, you want to do everything in your power to protect the vehicle and your personal wellbeing. At Avis Fleet, we understand the risks involved in the movement of people and goods. As a fleet company, we can offer you peace of mind with our unique solutions that are tailored to your business and vehicle needs.