Nothing can quite prepare one for the trauma of a hijacking, however, there are a few things one could do in the event of a hijacking, particularly when there are children around.
How to avoid hijackings.
- Be vigilant when pulling out of your driveway or coming home - 68% of all hijackings occur close to home.
- If you suspect you are being followed, slow down at least two to three houses prior to your home to force the vehicle behind you to pass.
- If you have an electric gate, do not pull into your driveway before opening the gate. Rather open your gate while your car is still on the road to allow a quick getaway if necessary.
- If you do not have an electric gate and your child is in the car, take the ignition key with you as you stop to open the gate. The key is a valuable negotiating tool – the criminals want your car and you want your child.
- Don’t fall for the “tap tap” trap where the driver of another vehicle gently drives into the back of your car in traffic. Never get out of your car to assess the damage but rather drive to a busy location. Signal to the other driver to follow you. If it is not legitimate they will seldom follow you.
What to do if you are hijacked
- The first and golden rule: Don’t antagonise the hijackers. Show them you are not a threat.
- Lift up your arms to show you have no weapon.
- Use your left arm to undo your seatbelt and put your car in neutral.
- Do not turn off your car.
- If you are hijacked while your children are in the car, climb out of the vehicle slowly and tell the hijackers calmly that you need to take your children out. (Remember that the eldest child should always be seated behind the driver and the younger child to the left). Move to the back door directly behind the driver’s door. Place one foot firmly in the car, on the floor behind the driver’s seat, as you lean across to retrieve the youngest child. The eldest child will probably cling to you and you can get both children out of the car at once.
- Stay calm. If the hijackers panic and the vehicle starts moving before you have your children out of the car, your firm footing in the vehicle will throw your body weight into the car with your children, as opposed to you being left behind and the hijackers speeding off with your children.
- Do not turn your back on the hijackers – your organs are most exposed from the back.
- Avoid direct eye contact with the hijackers.
10 Points to Remember in a Hijacking
Hints are helpful to protect yourself and your family in the event of a hijacking. Criminals prey on ignorance! Be aware and informed.
- Always be alert near gates, driveways or garages and look out for suspicious persons, vehicles and loiterers when leaving or arriving at your home or business.
- Be on the look-out for suspicious people when stopping at stop signs or traffic lights, or while driving in city traffic, especially in quiet areas or at night.
- Drive away quickly if someone suspicious approaches your stationary vehicle.
- Always keep your vehicle doors locked and windows closed. Keep valuables out of sight.
- Don't respond to people indicating that there is something wrong with your vehicle whilst you are driving. Drive to the nearest garage or safe place, such as a police station.
- If your vehicle breaks down, if possible, drive on to a safe place. Do not wait for other motorists to come to your assistance. Use your cellular phone to contact emergency services for assistance.
- Beware of people asking for directions, especially in parking areas.
- Make sure that you are not followed to and from your home or business, and if you are followed, go to the nearest police station or place where there are many people. Avoid quiet streets or areas.
- If you are hijacked, try to remember as much details regarding the hijackers as possible, such as vehicle registration numbers, clothing, distinguishing features, etc. Contact emergency services as soon as possible.
- Remember if you are hijacked, don't resist, your life is more valuable than the most expensive car.
These points are based on current trends relating to hijacking in the Johannesburg policing area.
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Stay safe on the roads. And remember that Altech Netstar is there to assist.