The statistics recently released by police demonstrate that car hijackings have increased by 14.3% since last year, and by 55% over the past four years.
Dial Direct, which provides a direct insurance service, also confirmed the increase, and its spokesperson Bianca de Beer said: “Our claims statistics note a similar upward trend in hijackings. Our statistics mirror those of the SAPS and show that the majority of hijackings take place in Gauteng, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and then the Western Cape.”
Therefore, Dial Direct offered the following practical tips to avoid becoming a hijacking statistic:
- Plan your route: Use a GPS to avoid getting lost and becoming an easy target. Inform the person at your destination about your estimated time of arrival.
- Stay alert: Always be aware of your surroundings and look out for anything suspicious.
- Be focused: Limit distractions, such as checking or talking on your cellphone, when walking to or from your car.
- Lock up: Avoid driving with windows open, keep the doors locked and lock valuables out of sight. Install smash-and-grab window protection if possible.
- Mix things up: Vary the routes you take to make it less predictable for criminals.
- Check the tail: If you suspect you are being followed, make a couple of false turns. If someone is still following you, drive to the nearest police station.
- Allow space: Leave enough room between you and the car in front of you to avoid being boxed in.
- Savvy stopping: Slowdown in such a way that the light is green by the time you reach a traffic light, especially late at night – this avoids you coming to a complete stop and reduces your risk of becoming a target.
- Pick your parking spot: Always park in a safe, well-lit area.
- Use panic buttons: If you sense you are in danger, use the panic button on your tracking device if it has one.
- Go electric: Many hijackings happen just as you are entering or leaving your home. Having a well-lit, shrub-free driveway and an electric gate (that can switch to a battery during power failures) can help you get in and out safely. Use the remote to close the gate behind you, rather than waiting for the self-timer. This limits a criminal’s window of opportunity.
- Know your neighbour: Knowing your neighbours and the cars they drive well help you to better identify suspicious individuals and vehicles.
- Keep an SOS phone: Keep a spare, small and cheap phone loaded with airtime and emergency contacts (including your insurer) handy so that you can call for help even if your car and valuables are stolen.,
- Keep your car in tiptop shape: A broken down car makes you a target for would-be hijackers, who will settle for a raid of your valuables.
– Caxton News Service