As we all know, prevention is better than cure, but in order to prevent a hijacking situation one needs to be equipped with the correct information.
Kevin Smith, a hijack prevention trainer at the Volkswagen Driving Academy, said that the greatest weapon in a hijacker’s arsenal is not his gun, but the belief that it will not happen to us.
Hijacking is a reality and you need to be prepared by understanding the cunning methods used by hijackers. These include:
- Pretending to be a stranded motorist
- Faking a rear-end collision or deliberately getting involved in an accident with the victim
- Throwing an object through an open window of a vehicle
- Deflating a tyre or removing a number plate so that when the driver of the vehicle is signaled, they respond to the ‘good Samaritan’s’ notice by stopping
- Placing sharp objects behind or in front of car tyres; the hijacker will then follow the driver until he stops to change the punctured/flat tyre
- Approaching the victim while he is stopped at a traffic light /stop sign/ yield sign
- Approaching a victim in car parks, private driveways and apartment complex parking lots
- Waiting for a driver to arrive at or leave their place of employment
- Accosting a driver who is waiting for someone, such as parents collecting children at sports events, etc.
You can avoid these tactics by:
- Being on the look out for people standing near your gate or driveway and ensuring that the area around your gate or driveway is well lit
- Phoning ahead to give a relative or friend your expected time of arrival
- Getting to know your neighbours and the cars they drive. This will help to identify any uncommon vehicles in your area.
- Adopting a search pattern radius to scout before approaching your home
- Looking out for vehicles, which may be following you or trying to box you in while driving
- Planning an escape route and keeping this route open
- Adjusting your speed when approaching a traffic light so that you do not have to come to a complete stop
- Using your horn to draw attention to yourself if you are approached
- Keeping your car keys on hand when approaching your vehicle, do not fumble in your handbag as this shows you are off guard
- Staying alert while loading or off-loading groceries
- Changing your driving route and routines
- Looking out for any suspicious objects near your car before getting in
- When parking, reverse park for a quick exit
There are also seven golden rules to follow if you are held up:
- 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 and get away from the area as quickly as possible
- Don’t be a hero – your life is worth more than your car!