More than 40 cars are hijacked each day in South Africa, making hijacking one of the biggest problems facing the South African Police Services (SAPS).

According to the most recent SAPS crime stats, from April to December last year, a total of 12 743 cares were hijacked and reported to the police during this period. This shows a spike of almost 15% in reported hijacking cases compared to the previous year.

“After a series of decreases in reported hijackings in 2012, 2013, and 2014, last year’s data shows that the number of hijackings has increased to a high of 14,602 hijackings a year, up from 12,773 in 2015.

From a new low in 2012 – where just over 9,000 cases were reported – hijackings increased over 53% in the next five years.” –  a recent report on Business Tech

Ctrack, a vehicle tracking company, released its hijacking and crime statistics earlier this year. Their findings showed that that car and truck hijacking is most common in South Africa’s most populated province, Gauteng, followed by other built up provinces such as KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape.

Their statistics also revealed that most of these incidents happen between 6 pm and midnight, with Tuesday being the busiest time for criminals.

Police and other security agencies, both national and local, are urging motorists to be extra vigilant in the light of the increase in hijackings.

Here are some ways you can minimize the risk of falling victim to hijacking.

Keep an eye out

Being vigilant and observant is vital in ensuring your safety. Always make a note of what type of cars your neighbours and regular visitors to your neighbourhood are driving. This will help you identify any strange or suspicious vehicles in your area.

Keep an eye on people at intersections and stops while on the road. Never disregard anyone based on the way they’re dress, age or gender.

Be alert as criminals target drivers who seem distracted.

Safety measures

Keep your doors locked at all times. Avoid driving with your window open and keep all valuable out of sight.

Do regulator maintenance checks on your vehicle to avoid breaking down on the road and making yourself vulnerable.

Keep windscreens, windows and mirrors clean and clear, and make sure your defogger is working

Slow down when approaching a red traffic light so that you only reach it when it turns green.

Stopping at a garage or store

Plan routes carefully, so you did not need to stop in high-risk areas to fill up at a petrol station or a store.

Do not let your guard down when filling up or in a parking lot. Do not use your phone. Make sure your children know to get into the car as quickly as possible and be alert when someone approaches you.

Emergency plan

Make sure you are familiar with emergency facilities, such as the police or hospital, before entering any unknown area. Know your local and national emergency numbers.

If you think you’re being followed, drive to your nearest police station or a busy public area.

Never enter your driveway if there is a car behind you, and you should also avoid leaving your premises if there are any suspicious-looking cars parked nearby.

What to do if you are hijacked

Remember that your life is more valuable than your vehicle and possessions. Do not resist, fight back or become aggressive as perpetrators are often armed. Cooperate with the perpetrator/s and give them what they wan

Never look directly at the perpetrator, keep your hands visible at all times and move slowly. Make them aware of your actions before you do it. Criminals are on edge and any sudden movement can set them off.

Report. Alert. Inform

If you are a victim of hijacking, report the incident to the police, even if it was an attempted hijacking. No matter how small the incident, it has to be reported so that the police can track crime trends in an area and allocate appropriate resources.

Inform your community. Letting your neighbours know about the incident allows them to be careful and take the necessary precautions, especially if the incident happened in or near the neighbourhood.

Local structures like Neighbourhood Watches can also benefit from the information in order to keep the community safe and help find the perpetrators.

The tips above have been collected from the following sources:

 

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