According to SAPS crime statistics, vehicle hijacking have increased by 5.4% to 9 990 incidents in 2012/13. This means that 28 motor vehicles were hijacked every day, on average.
Research findings shared on www.arrivealive.co.za indicated that the majority of hijackings occurred between 5 and 8pm when people were on their way home from work.
With this in mind, insurance companies urges motorists to be vigilant.
According to Robyn Farrell, Executive Head of 1st for Women Insurance:
“You are most vulnerable when you are getting into or out of your car. Avoid idling in your driveway and make sure you enter and leave your driveway as quickly as possible.
“Another modus operandi of hijackers is to pretend to be policeman and get you to pull over. We’ve also heard about hijackers bumping into the car in front of them, forcing the car to stop. If this happens to you, and you do not feel safe stopping your vehicle, it is advisable to drive to your nearest police station,” says Farrell.
Farrell says that while driving away from the scene of an accident may have unforeseen legal and contractual consequences, the safety and wellbeing of 1st for Women’s customers will always come first. Each case will have to be assessed on its own individual merits.
Here are some other important tips to help avoid a hijacking:
- Walk to your car confidently. Have your key ready but not visible. Only unlock your car when you are close by. Don’t talk on the phone as you walk.
- Check the back seat before getting into the car, even if you left it locked.
- A well-maintained car is less likely to break down - keep your car in good condition. If you do break down then pull over, turn the hazard lights on and call for emergency assistance.
- Plan your route, drive with a GPS and let someone know what your route is and when to expect you somewhere.
- Always check the rear view mirror to see if you are being followed. If you suspect you are then drive to your nearest police station or busy public area.
- Avoid driving with windows open and keep the doors locked. Put all valuables out of sight. If possible, install a smash-and-grab window film for extra protection.
- Avoid distractions while driving. Checking Facebook and Twitter in the car is out!
- When approaching a red traffic light, slow down so that you only reach it when it turns green.
- Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear from shrubbery.
- If your gate is on a sensor then rather close it with your remote instead of waiting for it to close automatically. This decreases the possibility of someone slipping in after you.
- Always park in a central, well-lit place, preferably with guards on duty.
- When stopping behind another vehicle, leave half a vehicle length in front so you can make an emergency escape if necessary.
- Change your routes and your schedule if possible on a regular basis.
- Make it safer to arrive somewhere by phoning ahead asking someone to open and close the gate for you. You can also call your Security Company and request for them to meet you close to home.