Johannesburg - According to the latest crime stats by the SAPS, 8 610 incidents of carjackings were reported from April 2016 to March 2017 in Gauteng.
A total of 16 717 hijackings and 53 307 cars stolen between April 2016 and March 2017 up from 14 602 reported in the previous 12 months, reports police Minister Fikile Mbalula as part of the annual national crime statistics.
Hijack awareness during December
According MasterDrive: "Research conducted over the festive season shows clear spikes in crime during December, including hijacking. While the reason for this can only be assumed, you can take definite action to protect yourself and your family. These are some simple tips on how to do this."
Don’t stop in your driveway
You need to be stationary to be hijacked; drivers are vulnerable when pulling up to their homes as hijackers use this opportunity to 'box' victims in their driveways.
MasterDrive managing director, Eugene Herbert, explains: "Hijackers need you to be stationary which is why you should never pull into your driveway until the gate is open. Instead, wait in the road parallel to your driveway, ready to go at any moment, while the gate opens.
"Where possible you should also try to avoid stopping completely at intersections. If conditions allow, anticipate traffic light changes and drive slowly up to the intersection to avoid stopping at all. Remember, however, these techniques can only be effective if you are aware of your surroundings and spot a potential threat before it reaches your window."
Shopping centers are one of the areas where crime levels increase drastically during December and January.
Herbert said: "If you find yourself at a shopping centre in the coming weeks find a parking space against a wall and reverse your car into the bay. When you return to your car you can offload your purchases while keeping an eye on potential threats. The wall at your back also prevents someone from surprising you from behind."
Children are also more likely to be travelling with you during December.
Herbert said: "While none of us want to consider being hijacked with our children, the sad reality is that we should. Before you find yourself in this situation, teach your children where to sit in the car and what to do if it does occur. Agree on a keyword which will mobilise car occupants into action. Remember a car is replaceable but a life isn’t. Your primary objective should be to get yourself and your family out the car as quickly and safely as possible."
As the year draws to a close, lets end if off on a positive note. Be careful not to drop your guard as you enjoy the holiday season. You do not need to be afraid to step out the house but you do need to be ready should you become the target of criminals.
• 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 when walking to or from your car, as well as when driving
• Avoid driving with windows wide open, keep the doors locked and valuables out of sight
• 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
• Slow down in such a way that the traffic light is green by the time you reach it
• Always park in a safe, well-lit area
• If you are hijacked: Remain calm; do not argue, do not make sudden gestures; avoid eye contact but try to remember what the carjacker looks like; comply with the hijackers directions (within reason); try to get away from the area as quickly as possible; don’t be a hero – your life is worth more than your car.
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