Hijacking awareness may just be your saving grace

Wahl Bartmann of Fidelity recommends keeping an eye on your surroundings when you are on your way home.

Vehicle tracking systems can offer the same kind of protection that your home’s alarm system offers. It can warn you if anyone is trying to steal your car, and it can help locate it when it has been taken by someone.

It is, however, imperative that you develop an awareness of your surroundings while driving.

“The latest police crime stats showed that a car was stolen every 22 minutes. SAPS numbers point to hijackings increasing by 14% while Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal showed the highest number of hijackings for the reporting period,” said Wahl Bartmann, chief executive of the Fidelity Services Group.

Police Minister Bheki Cele announced the crime statistics for Q1 (2022/23) during a media briefing last week. Bartmann says the numbers aligned with his company’s own most recent statistics, which also pointed to Gauteng and KZN as being the worst hit by the prevalence of hijackings.

But what can car owners do to better protect themselves and their vehicles?

Awareness, says Bartmann, is just as important as always.

“One of the methods that hijackers are increasingly using to target motorists is the ‘tap-tap’ trap. This is when a criminal will deliberately drive into the back of your car in traffic, or ‘tap’ it, and hijack the motorist when they get out of their car to assess the damage.

“We have noted that hijackers often use female drivers as decoys. Our advice is to never get out of the car on the scene to assess the damage, but to rather drive to a busy location. You should signal to the other driver to follow, and if it is not a legitimate accident, they will seldom do so.

“If you suspect you are being followed, put your indicator on and slow down at least two to three houses prior to your home. If you are being followed, you will force the vehicle behind you to pass, and this could cause the criminals to lose interest.”

Vehicle telematics systems and car trackers (such as SecureDrive, one of the products offered by the Fidelity Services Group) offer real-time tracking of your vehicle’s movements. It warns you if anyone is trying to gain unauthorised access to your vehicle. It is a valuable resource that can help locate the car once it has been stolen or hijacked.

In the unfortunate event that you are hijacked, how do you give your car over in a non-threatening manner?

Bartmann says the first and golden rule is to not antagonise the hijackers, who are probably more scared than you are. “You need to show them you are not a threat. Lift up your arms to show you have no weapon and will surrender.”

He also recommends the following:
• Use your left arm to undo your seatbelt and put your car in neutral;
• Do not turn off your car;
• Get out slowly;
• Try and angle your body sideways so you are not facing a firearm head-on;
• Remember to protect your head with your arms;
• Avoid direct eye contact with the hijackers;
• Try to take in what they are wearing, the sound of their voices, and so on;
• Most importantly, try to remain calm.

Issued on behalf of Fidelity ADT by Cathy Findley PR

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