SEE: More than 17 000 hijackings in SA - here's how you can protect yourself on our roads

The South African Police Service has released its latest crime statistics for South Africa. Its report, covering crimes from 2017 - 2018, show a 12% drop in vehicle related crime.

Car and truck hijacking continues to be a major scourge on South African roads as the latest statistics provided by the SAPS shows; there were 16 325 carjackings and 1202 truck hijackings reported for a total of 17 527. 

SAPS reports 50 663 vehicles stolen during 2017/18.

#CrimeStats in South Africa - 2017/18

We've included advice and tips for motorists at the end of this article.

What do you think can be done to curb hijackings and other vehicle crimes in SA? Email us

Theft and hijacking in SA:

Road safety advice: Info by Pro-Active SA

Before leaving your location:

1. Walk around your vehicle to confirm that there is no one lurking near or inside your car.
2. If your child will be driving with you, let them sit behind the driver of the vehicle. This will ensure that in the event of an incident, the driver can remove and shield the child with their backs towards the hijackers/suspects.
3. Ensure your number plates are both on the vehicle and no papers are stuck to the rear or front windows of your vehicle. This is a trend used by suspects to lure you into stopping, while your vehicle is running, to either retrieve the number plate or remove the papers.
4. Place all valuable items out of sight either under the seat or in the boot of your vehicle. Smash and grabs are extremely common.
5. Ensure your windows and doors are closed and locked before leaving.
6. Plan your route before departure.

While driving:

1. Stay off your phone - Not only are you a risk of being involved in a car crash, you are also placing your fellow drivers and loved ones at risk. Not to mention it is illegal. Put your phone on silent and out of reach while driving.
2. Be vigilant at all times and report any suspicious behaviour to the SAPS and your local security service provider.
3. If your windscreen or tyre is damaged while driving, drive to a well-lit area before stopping to inspect the damage.
4. Do not stop for anyone that might indicate they are in need of help in deserted or high-risk areas. Contact Law Enforcement, the SAPS or security company to assist.
5. Take a different route daily when leaving home or returning home. Criminals pounce on the fact that we are following the same routine and routes.
6. Though there is a misconception that only certain makes and models are being stolen or hijacked, if there is a need for a certain make or model vehicle in the vehicle crime market will any vehicle become a target.
7. Lower your music, eliminating distractions and be extra vigilant 1km from your destination, ensuring that you are not being followed.
8. Park parallel to your home opening the gate prior to pulling into the driveway. Parking in your driveway while opening your gate might get you boxed in.

In the unfortunate event of a hijacking:

1. At no given time resist the attacker or suspects.
2. Keep your hands visible at all times as the suspects are as nervous as you are.
3. Be submissive and listen to the suspects’ instructions.
4. Do not resist once you have exited the vehicle.
5. Place your child that is in a baby seat behind you to remove the child with ease. Indicate to the suspect that you have a child in the back seat and remove the child by shielding him/her as much as possible.
6. Remain calm and try to identify any useful information about the hijackers without staring at them.
- Take note of the Language the suspects speak
- Count the number of voices.
- Listen to the information the suspects share amongst themselves and possibly via cellphone.
- Estimate the height of the suspects by comparing it to your own height.
- Identify any clothing, markings and shoes of the suspects. Some suspects change their clothes but not their shoes.
7. Create time and space as quickly as possible between yourself and the threat.

14 tips to help avoid a hijacking:

1 When approaching your vehicle, keep your key ready but not visible. Unlock your car when you're close by.   
2 Check the rear seat before getting into your car.
3 A well-maintained car is less likely to break down and leave you vulnerable.
4 Plan your route and let someone know what your route is and when to expect you at your destination.
5 Always check the rear-view mirror to see if you are being followed. 
6 Avoid driving with your windows open and keep the doors locked. Put all valuables out of sight. 
7 Avoid distractions while driving such as using a cellphone.
8 If you suspect you are being followed, drive to your nearest police station or a busy public area.
9 When approaching a red traffic light, slow down so that you only reach it when it turns green.
10 Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear of shrubbery. 
11 If possible, park in a central, well-lit place, preferably with guards on duty. 
12 When stopping behind another vehicle, leave half a vehicle length in front so you can make an emergency escape if necessary.
13 Change your routes and your schedule if possible on a regular basis. 
14 Make arriving at your destination safer by calling ahead and asking someone to open and close your gate for you.

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