Hijacking remains a common and terrifying reality in South Africa. Stats provided by the national police commissioner for Q3 of 2021 showed a total of 4,973 hijackings were reported in 2021, a 3.5% increase from the same period in 2020.
The country’s leading security and medical response marketplace, AURA, recently released its very first Crime Trend Report which noted hijackings and attempted hijackings as one of the top ten reasons people called on AURA for help.
With crime on the rise, AURA says the need for greater access to inclusive and affordable on-demand emergency services is more urgent than ever. As hijackers are increasingly sophisticated in their methods it’s up to ordinary citizens to be as vigilant as possible.
AURA’s top anti-hijacking tips:
- Know when you’re most at risk. Most hijackings occur near or at your own home. Scan your local paper and community groups for information on crime in your area. Knowing criminals’ typical modus operandi is invaluable.
- Turn down your car radio when you’re ten minutes away from your home. Become more aware of your surroundings and whether any vehicles may be following you.
- Map your route and share it. If you’re travelling alone to a new area or alone at night. Share your route plan with a loved one so they know your whereabouts and your expected time of arrival.
- Install a panic button. Many anti-theft and vehicle tracking systems come with a panic button (or even automatic alert) that immediately notifies relevant parties that you’re in trouble. Your local community security company may also advise you to install one linked to their control room on your mobile phone so help can arrive as soon as possible.
- Keep your surroundings tidy. While it’s obvious you should keep your driveway neat and tidy and be aware of hiding places near your gate, it’s a good idea to ensure the same is true next door. Chat to your closest neighbours about any areas of concern and make a mental note of their cars so you know when to report a suspicious vehicle.
- If you suspect you’re being followed, don’t go home. Drive around your block, alert your local security company, and drive to the nearest police station.
- Switch up your routine. Criminals often study their targets beforehand. As far as possible, change your routine so your movements are less predictable.
- Remain calm and walk away from your car. No car is worth your life. Show your hands to your hijacker/s and follow their instructions. Avoid eye contact and put as much distance between yourself and the vehicle as possible.
- If you have children in the car, the youngest child should be seated behind the driver and the oldest to the left. Seat your youngest child behind the passenger seat so that you can reach over, undo the car seat buckle and pull your child towards you. Experts recommended kids exit the car with you via the driver’s door.