Hijackings remain an issue around the country and residents should not become complacent, warns Charnel Hattingh, National Marketing & Communications Manager, Fidelity ADT. “We continue to see incidents of follow-home hijackings and opportunistic hijackings throughout the year. Anyone who drives a car is at risk and needs to be aware and cautious,” she says.
She advises drivers to wait in the road and not in their driveways if they suspect they are being followed. “Wait for any cars to pass you and wait until the car is a far distance away before entering your property. If you have a panic button or a mobile security app, have it on and on hand just in case. Fidelity ADT has, for example, the FindU app which you could activate on your way home and in the event of an emergency trigger the app to send an alert.”
Hattingh reminds parents that when you have children in the car, the eldest child should be seated behind the driver and the youngest to the left. “The National Hijack Prevention Academy recommends this. The reason for this is if you are hijacked and need to get out of the car, you can move quickly from the driver’s door to the door directly behind it. You can reach across the eldest child to unstrap the younger child. The eldest child can cling to you as you remove them both together.”
“If you need to stop in your driveway to manually open the gate, remember to always leave the key in the ignition and the motor running unless you have a child in the car. Only then should you take the key with you as you open the gate. The key is a valuable negotiating tool – they want your car and you want your child.”
She asks all residents to be more alert the closer they get to home, checking for strangers or strange cars in their street. “Turn your radio off, put your cellphone down, tell the kids to be quiet and concentrate on your surroundings as you approach home. Please report anything suspicious to your security provider or the SAPS immediately.”
And don’t be lulled into a false sense of security because you live in a complex with guards. “We have seen incidents of hijackings right in front of the guard houses at complex entrances. You can easily be followed into your complex so always remain vigilant. Research shows that most people relax the closer they get to home and this is often when they are most vulnerable.”
In the unfortunate event that you are hijacked, how do you give your car over in a non-threatening manner?
“The first and golden rule is to not antagonise the hijackers who are probably more scared than you are. You need to show them you are not a threat. Lift up your arms to show you have no weapon and will surrender. Use your left arm to undo your seatbelt and put your car in neutral.”
Do not turn off your car, says Hattingh, and get out slowly. “Try and angle your body sideways so you are not facing a firearm head-on. Also remember to protect your head with your arms and avoid direct eye contact with the hijackers but try to take in what they are wearing, the sound of their voices, etc. Most importantly try to remain calm,” she concludes.