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Hijacking: The dos and don'ts

2003-08-14 12:38

John Oxley

The first thing is to BE ALERT.

When you approach your car

Look around you. Check if you're being followed, or if anyone is hanging around.

  • If you're not sure, go past your car, or go into a shop or other establishment.

If you can't see all around the car, get into a position where you can check if anyone is hiding behind it.

If you feel safe to do so, when you get to your car have your key ready in your hand, or hold it in your pocket.

  • Don't wait until you get to the car and start fumbling in a handbag or pocket.

When you're inside the car, lock the doors immediately and start it.

  • If anyone approaches your car and you feel uneasy, drive away immediately. Life is too short to be polite.

Once you're moving

Keep your doors locked and your windows closed.

Avoid driving alone if you can.

  • If it's hot and you don't have aircon, don't open the windows more than 5 cm.

Constantly be on the lookout for someone following you.

If you think someone might be, take a left turn or two, drive around a block.

  • If you're convinced, DO NOT GO HOME. Drive to the nearest police station and report the incident.

If you see someone in distress beside the road late at night, DO NOT STOP.

  • Report the incident to the police or emergency services either by cellphone, or at the nearest safe point (such as a police station, or when you reach your destination).

Keep moving as much as possible. You can't be hijacked on the move.

  • Leave enough space between yourself and the car in front that you can manoeuvre around it, especially if you sense trouble.

When approaching an intersection, drive in the centre lane to make it harder for people to approach you.

If there are people hanging around a robot or stop street, especially at night, and you feel threatened, drive carefully through the intersection rather than coming to a dead stop. Better to break the law than lose your life.

  • But we stress here - drive carefully and ensure it's safe to do so!

At your destination

If you're arriving at home, first ensure no-one has followed you.

Even if you feel safe, do not drive straight into your driveway.

Stop in the roadway, ensuring you can drive off if anyone tries to block your way. If you have electric gates, wait there until the gates have opened.

Only enter your driveway once the gates have opened, and close them immediately you're inside. Get out of the car straight away and quickly go inside the house.

If you have to manually open the gates, don't leave the keys in your car and the engine running.

Stop the car, take the keys with you, and open the gates, ensuring it's safe to do so.

Go back to the car and drive in.

Stop the car, take out the keys, and immediately close and lock the gates. Once the gates are locked, lock the car, then go straight inside the house, locking the door behind you.

If you've something in the car that you want to take inside, rather go out later once you have been able to ensure the coast is clear.

Away from home

If you're going to another destination, always park in a well-lit area, and ensure there are no people "hanging around".

Avoid parking near large trucks or vans, rubbish skips, or anything else that can hide a potential hijacker.

If possible use a car park which has visible security.

  • Never leave anything inside the car. These days thieves will steal just about anything, so ensure it's locked out of sight, preferably in the boot.

And it's best to lock your stuff away BEFORE you get to your destination. You don't want to be caught with your head inside the boot, or advertise the fact that you have valuables by locking them in the boot in full view of potential thieves.

Don't rush. Take your time and look around before getting out of the car. Be prepared to drive off if you don't feel safe.

If the worst happens

Stay calm, but look scared. The hijacker wants to feel he has power over you.

If he has a knife or a gun, don't argue. Give up your car.

  • Don't make any sudden moves, or reach inside your pocket or bag.

Once he's gone, get away from the area as quickly as possible, and get help.

Try to remember what the hijacker looked like. Facial features, scars, height, weight. Anything that will help the police identify and apprehend him.

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