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Security advice from SAPS & ADT about Hijackings

1. Preventing Hijackings

DO’S
o Always travel with the car doors locked.
o Keep all windows closed or, at most, not open more than would allow a hand to fit through.
o Be aware of anybody who approaches your car or is loitering near traffic lights, stop streets, parking areas or your driveway.
o Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear of shrubbery in which criminals could hide.
o Check your driveway and street before you leave or enter your premises.  When approaching your driveway be extra alert.  Switch off the car radio and concentrate on your surroundings.
o Be aware of pedestrians or occupied vehicles parked near your home.  Don’t open electronic gates or turn into your driveway – rather drive past and return later.
o When returning home after dark make sure an outside light is left on and/or that someone meets you at the gate.  Be wary if animals that usually greet you at your gates aren’t there.
o Make sure that you allocate a button on your gate/garage remote
to your house panic button. Keep your remote in your hand and your finger on the panic button when
approaching and leaving your house at all times.
o Attract the attention of other motorists or pedestrians if you think you are in danger. Use the hooter, flash your lights, put your emergency lights on or shout.
o Leave enough room between your car and the one in front to avoid being boxed in. Make sure you can see where the tyres of the other car make contact with the road.
o Constantly monitor what vehicles are travelling behind, ahead and next to you, in case more than one vehicle is involved in setting a trap to stop you. If you are suspicious of vehicles around you take (responsible) action to get out of the situation.
o Remain in your car if it is hit from behind. Inspect any damage only once you are sure it is not a hijack attempt.
o If you suspect that you are being followed, you should ideally drive to the nearest police station. If this is not possible, drive to another safe place but don’t go home.
o If approached by a suspicious -looking person, especially at night or in lonely areas, drive off quickly from a stop street or intersection, always heeding traffic danger; skipping a stop sign or red light remains an offence and the onus is on you to prove that your action was in self-defence.
o At unusual or unexpected roadblocks, keep windows closed and doors locked and ask for the police or traffic officer’s identity card. Show your identity document to them through the window. Trust works both ways. The same goes for being stopped by traffic officers at speed traps.

DONT’S
o Don’t stop at the scene of an accident unless you are convinced it is genuine. Accidents can be set up in the hope that you will stop to assist. Slowing down too much may also make you vulnerable. Sometimes a “body” is placed next to the road. Rather drive on and report the incident at the nearest police station.
o Don’t enter your garage or a parking area if you believe you are being followed. Drive to the nearest police station.
o Don’t stop if, for example, a passer-by indicates that your car has a flat tyre or other defect. Drive to the nearest service station or safe area and check it there. It is a good idea to carry a product that temporarily seals any puncture and inflates the tyre.
o Don’t leave your car door open and the engine running while opening your garage door or gates - criminals can act quicker than you’d expect. If you have to get out of your car to open your gate, switch off and take the key out of the ignition and close the door. This makes it more difficult to steal your car, and if you’ve left small children in your vehicle you can negotiate getting them out in exchange for the key.  With older children it’s better for them to get out with you when you open the gate so you’re all away from the vehicle should it be hijacked.
o Don’t be distracted by people handing out flyers at intersections or buy items, such as flowers and newspapers, from unfamiliar vendors.

2. What to do to survive a hijacking
o A hijacking is usually over in a matter of seconds or minutes but it is one of the most frightening experiences one can go through. Try your utmost to stay calm. Listen to the hijackers and do as they tell you and you have a greater chance of surviving.
o Regardless of the criminal’s intentions, the situation is an explosive one in which you both have one thing in mind: survival. Your life and the lives of those with you must be your priority. Resisting the hijackers may cause violence or even death. Remember: possessions can be replaced, a life cannot.
o Hijacking involve planning and the criminals are likely to have more experience in such situations, thus more control over you and themselves. They might be as nervous as you are, and they may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol which may make their actions more unpredictable.
o Avoid eye contact with the hijackers and try not to do anything they may not be expecting. Do not scream or make sudden movements, such as motioning with your hands.
o Keep your hands where the hijackers can see them, ideally at chest level. This will assure them that you are not reaching for a weapon. Do not raise your hands above your head as they may think you are attracting attention of other people.
o If they order you out of the car wait for them to open the door or, if they order you to open the door, do it slowly with one hand, keeping the other where they can see it. Also undo your seatbelt with one hand, preferably the hand furthest from the clip by extending your arm over your body (if it is on your left, use your right hand).
o Slowly move away from the car so that you cannot be perceived as a threat to them.
o Quietly but clearly assure the hijackers that they can take the car.
o Do not reach for or motion towards items they may demand such as wallets, briefcases and cell phones. Rather tell them where they are and wait for them to get them themselves or they may tell you to hand them over.
o Be honest with hijackers. For example, if you have a firearm on you and they ask, tell them you have. Finding out or suspecting you have lied to them may unsettle them and lead to them becoming violent. Tell them honestly how to deactivate any alarms or immobilisers or do it yourself if ordered to do so.
o Bear in mind the possibility of later identifying the hijackers. Make mental notes of how many there are, what they are wearing, their ages, and any facial or other physical characteristics. However, try not to be obvious and do not stare at the hijackers.
o Hijackers may not notice a sleeping baby in the back seat. If this is the case, tell them and point out that the child is not a threat and will make things more difficult for them. Never move to release the child without them saying you may. Do the same if a pet is in the car but don’t push the point to where your life may be threatened at the expense of an animal.
o If ordered to lie down, do so and remain there with your head down, do not watch them. Stay still until you are sure they have left and only then go for help.
o The hijackers may drive off with you or you may even be ordered to drive. If you are driving, do so responsibly and do not do anything out of the ordinary. Always remain quiet unless you need to reply to a question or clarify an order. Remember to be honest with them.

3. After a hijacking
o Get help as soon as the hijackers have left you and immediately report it to the police. The Police have a greater chance of catching the criminals while they are on the move in your car.
o You need to get professional counselling to help you process what happened and cope with it emotionally. Seek help within hours of the hijacking. Do not fool yourself into thinking you’ll “get over it”. During a hijacking you experience severe trauma, which can manifest itself in many different ways soon or long after the incident.
o Remember that you are not to blame for anything that happened. Criminals look for opportunities and situations where their potential victims are vulnerable, and develop new techniques to get our vehicles.

Last updated: Wednesday, 31 December, 2014