How to spot hijackers on the road, and possibly foil their attempts

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 • Carjackings have increased by 4.9% during the first few months of 2021.
 • Wheels24 reader Caleb Schroeter shares some helpful tips after being in an attempted hijacking.
 • Being more aware of your surroundings could help get out of tricky situations, but so too will more visible policing.
 • For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24. 

Leo Prinsloo could probably be hailed as one of South Africa's best drivers. Don't know his name? He is the man who foiled an attempted heist a couple of weeks ago in April with some really impressive driving. His skilful tactics saved him and his co-worker's life, along with all their company merchandise.

"There is nothing that can really prepare you 100% for a situation like that," is what Leo Prinsloo said after surviving a cash-in-transit (CIT) attack in Pretoria in a News24 report.

According to News24, Prinsloo spoke to television broadcasting channel eNCA's reporter, Barry Bateman, saying he "pre-visualised" what he was going to do when a group of armed men tried to rob the CIT vehicle he was driving on 22 April, on the N4 in Pretoria. 

READ |' I pre-visualised what I was going to do' - CIT driver who foiled Pretoria heist

The footage, which was recorded in the cabin of the CIT vehicle, shows Prinsloo and his colleague, Lloyd Mtombeni, reacting to multiple shots.

Prinsloo said: "You know instinct kicks in pretty much... When we train people, we usually tell them to pre-visualise what you are going to do... That's pretty much what happened - I pre-visualised what I was going to do, to the best of my ability.

"I did what my mind just told me to do, and it worked out for me on that day."

People react differently in every situation. I recall being in an attempted hijacking a few years ago in Joburg's CBD. For weeks before the incident, I told our readers in a column never to make eye contact and listen to the demands of hijackers when found in such a situation. All they want is your car and valuables. Then, when I found myself in an attempted hijacking, I went against my own advice because adrenaline kicked in and made me act on instincts; I fought, I cussed and kept my left hand on the hooter during the entire incident - even with a gun being held to my head. Stupid, most certainly, but thankfully, my life was spared because I had created too much attention. It could have gone wrong so quickly. 

A quick-thinking motorist foils hijackers' attempt to commit a crime.

Recently I saw a thread on Twitter by Wheels24 reader Caleb Schroeder. He, too, had found himself in a potential hijacking situation, but because he thought on his feet, he could foil the attempt. Schroeder wants to share his advice to inform and help as many motorists as possible.

So this is what he has to say:

Wheels24 reader Caleb Schroeter shared some vital survival tips in an attempted hijacking; it could just save your and your loved ones' lives. 

Schroeter says: "Here's a little story from my experience that could possibly help you or a friend. On Saturday night, I faced an attempted hijacking; it's something that we hope never to face in our lives, but we always have to be vigilant of.

"This is where we can start: the vigilance -  I started being followed from the highway; it's not just about checking your mirrors for cars, but also about the behaviour of the vehicles around you; one could even call it the body language of cars.

"I would change lanes, and this one car would sometimes match what I was doing; they (driver and occupants of the chasing vehicle) remained at a distance so that they would not be suspicious to someone who was not vigilant or monitoring them. I slowed down to a measly 90km/h, and they did not pass me? Very strange.

"So I began to accelerate, hard, to get away, and would you know, they did the same. I started weaving through traffic; they did the same.

"So this is the crucial part of getting away from hijackers, the next step where you begin your escape plan, you have recognised your threat, now start to deal with it.

"Long story short, with manoeuvres, using offramps and onramps, thinking ahead and using speed, I lost them. On any other day, with someone who was not vigilant, it could have been dangerous.

Have you ever escaped or foiled an attempted hijacking, or do you have some more valuable tips to share? Please email us or use the comments section below.

WATCH | Nerveless CIT driver foils Pretoria heist

"So let me breakdown some tips I have learned along the way that could help you or someone you know:

1. Timing

Hijackers, in most cases, will time you, follow you around, and begin their plan of attack – this in most cases happens at night, but equally so, you can be confronted with a threat during the day, as mentally, you expect it not to happen.

2. Distance

Maintain your distances to cars, on all parts of the road, highway, city road, back-roads and intersections – because you may not be threatened from the rear, but also the front, they can block you or jam you in.

Also, when stopping at stop streets or traffic lights, try and leave a space between the cars in front of you; my recommendation is to stop far back enough that you can see some tarmac between your bonnet line and the bottom of the vehicle in front of you, or its rear wheels.

3. Their goal

They are after your car or your belongings; most times, if you have a high-risk vehicle, it's the car – alternatively, those luxury items that are on your person.

4. Vigilance 

"A Habit, once you practice these small techniques of observations, it will eventually become second nature."

5. Defence 

"Learn how to defend with your car by using driving techniques to get away or around danger, gapping in between vehicles to block them." 

6. Speed 

"This is fundamentally your best friend – I can show you 100 videos where someone used speed, and it saved them.

"You can begin to practice these techniques; or find defensive driving and anti-hijacking courses in your area - it really is worth it", says Schroeter.

Yes, more visible policing will help reduce vehicle crimes, but even the police can't be everywhere all at once.

We must always adhere to the road rules, but there comes a time where quick-thinking can save the day. Also, put down those cellphones. If you're a creature of habit to check messages or social feeds when you're in traffic or stopping at a red light, try putting your phone out of reach in the cubbyhole, your bag in the boot, or out of sight in another compartment. Vigilance is so essential, and so is being aware of your surroundings at all times. Sometimes we don't need to be advanced drivers, but just being alert of your situation could make a huge difference.

Eugene Herbert, MasterDrive CEO, also says: "Ultimately, however, the unfortunate truth is that it is not always possible to prevent being hijacked. Drivers should not only do their best to be aware of their surroundings but prepare for the worst in case they become the victim of a hijacking despite their efforts to prevent it."

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