PROTECT YOURSELF: Crime stats reveal an increase in hijacks in September 2016. Image: Supplied
Cape Town - Crime stats, released by the South African Police Service in September 2016, paint a grim picture for local motorists.
Most crime categories saw increases, yet vehicle hijackings saw the greatest increase. Hijackings increased by 14.3%, an increase of nearly seven times greater than any other crime category.
This means approximately 40 cars are hijacked every day, reports driver training specialist MasterDrive.
MasterDrive said: "In the face of these figures it might be time to recap on what to do to avoid being hijacking and how to react if you are."
MasterDrive says while the majority of hijackings do occur outside your home, it is important to remember this is not the only place. A large percentage of hijackings occur at intersections which is why drivers should be as aware at intersections as what they are when arriving home.
READ: Bizarre road-crime tactic in SA - a 'hijack doll'?
According to the MD of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, many drivers are caught unaware: “Keep an eye on people at intersections. Be careful of people who might be trying to distract you.
"Never disregard someone because they are well dressed. Most hijackers are the well-dressed, inconspicuous people possibly reading newspapers at the corner.”14 Tips to help avoid a hijacking:
1 When approaching your vehicle, keep your key ready but not visible. Unlock your car when you're close by.
2 Check the rear seat before getting into your car.
3 A well-maintained car is less likely to break down and leave you vulnerable.
4 Plan your route and let someone know what your route is and when to expect you at your destination.
5 Always check the rear-view mirror to see if you are being followed.
6 Avoid driving with your windows open and keep the doors locked. Put all valuables out of sight.
7 Avoid distractions while driving such as using a cellphone.
8 If you suspect you are being followed, drive to your nearest police station or a busy public area.
9 When approaching a red traffic light, slow down so that you only reach it when it turns green.
10 Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear of shrubbery.
11 If possible, park in a central, well-lit place, preferably with guards on duty.
12 When stopping behind another vehicle, leave half a vehicle length in front so you can make an emergency escape if necessary.
13 Change your routes and your schedule if possible on a regular basis.
14 Make arriving at your destination safer by calling ahead and asking someone to open and close your gate for you.
If you are approached by a hijacker keep your hands visible at all times. Herbert also recommends knowing what to do in a hijacking before it happens especially if you have children.
He said: “Decide on a key word which will galvanise your children into action. Their objective should be to get to the driver as quickly as possible.
“Older children should help younger children to the front and they should safely follow the adult out the same door. Vacating the driver’s seat to unbuckle children from the back leaves too great an opportunity for the hijacker to slip into that seat and drive off before your children are safely out."
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Herbert adds: “Your life is not worth the price of your car. The main thing that both of you want is for the hijacker to be gone as quickly as possible. Every reaction you have during a hijacking should be with the aim of ending the interaction as soon as possible.”
If you would like to find out what you can do to try avoid being hijacking or how to react in one if you cannot, contact MasterDrive on 086 110 0618. They have anti-hijack courses which are facilitated by professionals with firsthand experience with hijackings.