Hijackings, vehicle theft, smash-and-grabs and vehicle break-ins, are just a few of the vehicle crimes you need to be wary of. Ways in which you can prevent this and protect yourself are to have a tracking device installed, pay attention to what’s happening around you and not drive in dangerous areas. Netstar has experienced a 4% increase in reported vehicle theft and hijacking incidents in both Gauteng and the Western Cape over the last six months. So, we’ve compiled a list of some of the latest vehicle crime trend hot spots, and ways to protect yourself in these situations.
Intersections and robots
Intersections and traffic lights are popular hot spots for smash-and-grabs and hijackings. When your vehicle is stationary and idling, with your attention on the other vehicles in the area, it is an opportune moment for criminals to strike.
Ways to reduce your risk of falling prey at an intersection or robot:
- Drive defensively by anticipating what could happen at intersections.
- Keep your doors locked and your windows closed while driving.
- Avoid driving during quiet periods – late at night, early hours of the morning, or quiet afternoons.
- Where possible, drive in the middle lane, away from pedestrians.
- Never pick up hitchhikers.
Petrol stations have long been considered as places of fuel and retail convenience; but, they have become new hot spots for armed robberies and vehicle-related crimes, including hijackings and theft of items from vehicles.
Refuelling is unavoidable; so, what can and should you do to reduce your risk of falling prey at a petrol station?
- When stepping into a convenience store: Lock your doors, even if you only expect to be in the store for a few minutes.
- When filling up your tank: Keep your doors locked and windows closed. Do not leave your car keys in the ignition. Avoid any distractions such as taking a call or texting.
- When arriving at or leaving the station: Remain vigilant. If you suspect you’re being followed, drive to the nearest police station. Criminals may follow you to your destination.
- Plan your routes, and always know where the nearest police station is.
Parking lots at busy malls, schools and major event venues are popular hot spots for car theft. Criminals use a number of techniques, like remote car jamming and relay attacks, to name a couple.
Here are ways to prevent your vehicle from being stolen in a parking lot:
- Park your car close to the entrance to ensure that you are able to find it quickly upon your return.
- Park in ticketed parking bays where there is better protection, such as booms and camera surveillance.
- Keep all valuables in your car out of sight to prevent smash-and-grab and the jamming of your remote locking signal.
- When walking to or from your car, keep your key ready, but not visible to others.
Driveways are hot spots for follow-home crimes affecting many South African motorists. Although criminals can follow you at any point of your route, there is an increase in incidents of airport follow-home crimes that involve house robberies and vehicle hijacks. Worst yet, these incidents can culminate in severe injuries and deaths.
What should you do to reduce the risk of falling prey to this scourge?
- Avoid sticking to the same routes and schedules when travelling to frequent destinations (work, gym, school) in order to prevent criminals from monitoring your patterns and routines.
- Always look in the rear-view mirror to see if you are being followed.
- Make sure your driveway is well lit, and pay special attention to obstructions that may create difficulty in spotting a hijacker.
- Before you arrive at your destination, call ahead to ask someone to open and close the gate for you.
- When picking someone up/dropping someone off, park parallel to the road or leave enough space between the gate and the car in front of you so that you can make an easy escape.
Your safety is of the utmost importance to us. Upgrade to our Safe and Sound Early Warning subscription to arm your tracking device to send theft and geofencing alerts. In addition, Safe and Sound Early Warning members will receive a remote panic button, enabling you to call us with just a push of a button in your hour of need. Call 0860 12 24 36 or visit www.netstar.co.za to find out more about Netstar Safe and Sound tracking devices, and how we protect you and your loved ones.