Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Motorists are warned to be especially vigilant following the recent hike in hijackings. According to the South African Insurance Crime Bureau (SAICB), in the Western Cape, hijackings have increased by 41% and in Gauteng, hijackings have increased by 17.8%.   

Equally concerning, according to Dialdirect Insurance, is the sudden rise in ‘blue-light’ hijackings – where hijackers, under the guise of police, use blue, flashing lights or other means to stop and then hi-jack motorists.

To prevent becoming another statistic, Head of Dialdirect, Warwick Scott-Rodger recommends the following easy tips to stay safe:

  • Stay alert- It’s easy to get distracted when you’re travelling the same route every day. Make sure you keep your eyes on the road and notice your surroundings.
  • If you’re travelling to an area you know to be unsafe, keep a spare, cheap phone on you. Load it with some airtime, save a few emergency contacts onto it and turn it off to make the battery last. If your car and valuables are stolen, you will still be able to call for help.
  • Mix up your routes. Use your GPS to try different roads home to throw off any criminals casing your home or your car.
  • Get an electric gate. Many hijackings and home invasions happen just as you are entering or leaving your home. Having a well-lit driveway and an electric gate (that can switch to a battery during power failures) can help you get in and out safely.
  • Leave enough room between your car and the one in front to avoid being boxed in.  
  • If you think that you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station or another safe, public place. Don't go home. 
  • At unusual or unexpected roadblocks, keep windows closed and doors locked and ask for the police or traffic officer's identity card. 
  • If you sense you are in danger, hit the button on your tracking device if you have one.
  • When driving home alone, always phone ahead to give a relative, husband or partner your established time of arrival.
  • Get to know your neighbours and the cars they drive. This will help to identify any uncommon vehicles in your area.
  • Adopt a search pattern radius to scout before approaching your home.
  • Adjust your speed when approaching a traffic light so that you do not have to come to a complete stop.

There are also seven golden rules to follow if you are accosted by a hijacker:

  • 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

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 and knowledge.  Remember that the greatest weapon in a hijacker’s arsenal is not his gun, but the belief that it won’t happen to us.  Hijacking is a reality and you need to be prepared for this horrific eventuality,” concludes Scott-Rodger.

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