South Africa - According to statistics released by the South African Police Service in March 2017, a total of 12 743 vehicles were hijacked in South Africa between April and December 2016 – that’s 14.9% more than in the 2015/16 financial year.
Earlier in 2017, Wheels24 reported that more than 1400 vehicles are hijacked each month in South Africa, according to the latest crime statistics by the South African Police Service's (SAPS).
'It won't happen to me'
SAPS crime statistics for April - December 2016, report an increase in so-called “trio crimes”; car-hijacking, house robberies and robberies at non-residential areas.
SAPS says that 1416 vehicles are hijacked in South Africa each month – one every 32 minutes. Something that should prompt motorists to think twice before saying: “It won’t happen to me”.
'South Africans have become complacent'
Wheels24 spoke to Ryno Schutte, managing director of Pro-ActiveSA, a company which helps notifies and distributes information in stolen or hijacked vehicles to security companies in South Africa.
Schutte says: "Just this morning there was a publication of what a stolen vehicle looks like after a few hours after being stolen. To understand the psyche of a criminal we need to look at the human aspect there of. As we all have a career that we wish to excel in and want to be at the top of our class in everything we do, the same can be said about criminals. They will constantly adapt their Modus Operandi (Standard Operating Procedure) and find means and ways to get out on top."
"We do everything a certain way. We drive the same route daily, we get home at the same time, we leave home at the same time. Criminals know this and use this known fact that we as South Africans have become complacent."
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Schutte adds: "Criminals do shopping before hand and theft of motor vehicles are not as random as they seem. There is an element of organised skill that goes into stealing a vehicle or even hijacking a vehicle. Criminals know what they want and need to supply to the “Boss” a certain make, model in a specific timeline.
"We can all agree that your vehicle is not worth your life, if the your vehicle is being hijacked, remain calm at all times. Adhere to the requests made by the suspects while trying to notice as much information as possible about the perpetrators. They are just as nervous as you are, don’t take the risk of trying to fight the criminals off at any stage of the incident."
Schutte claims there's been a huge increase in hijackings the past few years of around 14% - 15% year on year which equate to 47 hijackings a day countrywide. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate when it comes to vehicle security which is a contributing factor to hijackings.
"No longer can a vehicle just be “hotwired” but the key is required for the vehicle to operate. Gone are the days when a suspect looks a certain way. Criminals are evolving daily, driving high performance vehicles, neatly dressed and does not look suspicious, pouncing on unexpected drivers. If you feel uncomfortable at any stage while driving anywhere, rather taking a risk by driving direct to your destination, rather contact your local security company to “meet and greet” you at your home or drive to the closest Police Station.
Be prepared at all times, be aware of your surroundings constantly, take note of new trends used by criminals and ensure that you adapt your driving patterns accordingly. Get off your mobile phone and focus on your driving as prevention is better than cure.
Dialdirect insurance says: “We read and share shocking stats like these all too frequently, but it’s an absolute must to treat information that could help to increase vigilance, and perhaps even curb hijackings, with the same priority.
“There is a wealth of information available online around hi-jacking hotspots and the latest hijacking tactics. The more you know, the better prepared you will be.”
12 Tips to avoid becoming a hijacking statistic: Tips by Dialdirect
• Use a GPS to avoid getting lost and becoming an easy target. Inform someone at your destination about your estimated time of arrival.
• Always be aware of your surroundings and look out for anything suspicious.
• Limit distractions, such as checking or talking on your cellphone, when walking to or from your car.
• Avoid driving with windows open, keep the doors locked and lock valuables out of sight. Install smash-and-grab window protection if possible.
• If you suspect you are being followed, make a couple of false turns. If someone is still following you, drive to the nearest police station.
• Leave enough room between you and the car in front of you to avoid being boxed in.
• Slowdown in such a way that the light is green by the time you reach a traffic light, especially late at night – this prevents you coming to a complete stop and reduces your risk of becoming a target.
• Always park in a safe, well-lit area.
• If you sense you are in danger, use the panic button on your tracking device or contact your armed response company.
• 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.
• Avoid distractions while driving. Checking Facebook and Twitter in the car is a no-no!
7 golden rules to follow if confronted 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 hijacker’s 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