15 things you can do to avoid becoming another hijacking statistic

15 things you can do to avoid becoming another hijacking statistic

Statistics recently released by the police show that carjackings have increased by a concerning 14.3% since last year and by 55% over the past four years.

Bianca de Beer of Dialdirect insurance company 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.”

With that in mind, follow these practical tips to avoid becoming a hijacking statistic. Some of them are common sense, some we have read about before, but we can never be too safe.

•1: Plan your route

Use a GPS to avoid getting lost and becoming an easy target. Inform the people/person at your destination about your estimated time of arrival.

2: •Stay alert

Always be aware of your surroundings and look out for anything suspicious.

•3: Be confident and focused

Limit distractions, such as checking or talking on your cellphone while walking to or from your car.

•4: 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

•5: Mix things up

Vary the routes you take to make it less predictable for criminals.

•6: 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.

7: •Allow space

Leave enough room between you and the car in front of you to avoid being boxed in.

8: •Be savvy with your stopping

Slowdown in such a way that the light is green by the time you reach a traffic light, especially late at night — this way you avoid coming to a complete stop and reduce your risk of becoming a target.

9: •Pick your parking spot

Always park in a safe, well-lit area. Be aware of suspicious people loitering about.

•10: Use panic buttons

If you sense you’re in danger, use the panic button on the tracking device – if it has one.

11: •Go electric

Many hijackings happen 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. This limits a criminal’s window of opportunity.

•12: Know your neighbour

Knowing your neighbours and the cars they drive will help you to better identify suspicious individuals and vehicles in your neighbourhood.

13: •Keep an SOS phone

Keep handy a spare small and cheap phone loaded with airtime and emergency contacts (including your insurer) so that you can call for help even if your car and valuables are stolen.

•14: 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.

15: Finally, try and remember these seven golden rules should you ever have the misfortune of being confronted by a hijacker

  • •Remain calm
  • •Do not argue
  • •Do not make sudden gestures
  • •Avoid eye contact but try to remember what the carjacker looked like by identifying and remembering special features
  • •Comply with the hijackers’ directions (within reason)
  • •Try to get away from the area as quickly as possible
  • •Don’t be a hero — your life is worth more than your car.
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