Hijackers target mothers

2009-02-20 00:00

A gang of hijackers who targeted a young Umlazi mother as she drove her children home from school had their evening out ruined late on Tuesday night — one was shot and the other bitten by a police dog.

The gang of three hijackers attacked the woman as she drove in Umlazi’s B section, but unknown to them, her Polo was fitted with a tracking device.

Patrick Arlow of Capital Air Security Services said he was only a few minutes away from Jacobs Road, Montclair, when he received a call that the car had been electronically traced to the area near the Jacobs Road hostel. Capital Air Security Services operates helicopters and recovers vehicles on behalf of several vehicle tracking companies.

No sooner had Arlow arrived in the area than the Polo came speeding past him. A short car chase and shoot-out ensued, during which Arlow’s bakkie was hit several times. One bullet narrowly missed Arlow after hitting the door and exiting just under his seat.

After a chase, the hijacked Polo crashed at a scrap yard alongside the Jacob’s canal.

As the hijackers jumped out, a fusillade of shots was directed at Arlow and the police vehicles that were metres behind him. Arlow managed to wound a hijacker, who fell in to a canal, dropping his 9mm pistol.

Sergeant Pedro Rodrigues of the SAPS Durban south dog unit tracked the other hijackers in to the bush and arrested one.

Arlow said that over the past several weeks he has noticed car hijackers are increasingly targeting women travelling with young children.

“Hijackers look for soft targets and you don’t get any softer a target than a young woman with children in her car.”

The hijackers allowed the woman to take her toddlers out of the car before making off with her Polo.

Melinda Brussow from the National Hijacking Prevention Academy — which trains motorists how to avoid falling victim to hijackers — said that while hijackers do target women with children, it is rare for them to drive off with them. “They want to blend into the masses … They don’t want any children in the car because it attracts too much attention,” she said.

She advised that anyone who is hijacked while driving with children should not make eye contact with the hijackers, but concentrate on getting their children out the vehicle.

She also advised motorists to repeatedly tell the hijackers: “I am just getting my children out the car”.

In almost every case the hijackers would want the children out before they drive off.

The trend started in Gauteng where, since the school year started three weeks ago, five mothers have been hijacked outside school gates.

Many Gauteng schools have begun to hire armed security companies to keep watch outside school drop-off points for hijackers who follow women home from picking up children, or who wait for victims outside school gates.

Police from the KZN provincial car hijacking task team are investigating the hijacking — and will be trying to link the two men in custody with similar hijackings. They are also searching for the third hijacker.

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