South Africa has a high crime rate and the theft of vehicles is one of the big ways in which criminal syndicates are able to drive a profit. With a 14.5% increase in hijacking since 2016, members of the public need to take any means necessary to avoid falling prey to hijackers. Installing a car tracker and an anti-hijack device could be of help, but only after the fact – below is a list of things you can do to try and make sure you don’t become a victim in the first place.
1. Stay alert!
This is the most important one. Career criminals make a living out of targeting those who appear vulnerable or distracted. Pay attention to the road – not your phone, music player or friends. If you are aware of your surroundings at all times, you are less likely to become a victim of crime.
2. Leave enough following distance
Always leave a space between your front bumper and the car ahead of you. Hijacking in South Africa is known for a common approach whereby criminals use a secondary vehicle to block the back of the intended target. Many victims are caught unaware and unable to reverse. Having not left themselves enough space to pull forward, they cannot get away from the confrontation that ensues.
3. Check your back seats
Everybody should check their back seat before jumping back into their car, especially women. Criminals have been known to place themselves in the back seat of a car when the occupant runs into a store. This has been most common at filling stations and predators usually choose women as their targets, who are later hijacked at gunpoint. Checking your back seat is an easy way of avoiding this potentially life threatening situation.
4. Maintain your vehicle
Keep your vehicle well maintained and make sure your car is serviced. If you drive an older car, always make sure it has oil and water. This gives you a lower chance of breaking down and becoming a target. Hijackers tend to target cars that are in good working order, because they are easier make off with, but why take the chance? Take care and avert any situation that could leave you vulnerable.
5. Plan your route
Always know where you are driving before hand and let a loved one know where you are. Tell someone when you arrive at your destination (and are safe inside). Good planning and communication will ensure that you don’t need to check for directions along the way, and will ensure that someone else is aware of your location and safety.