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How to prevent hijackings with your child in the car

To keep safe and prevent falling victim to hijackers, read on for hijacking prevention tips and what to do in the event of a hijacking.

Dealing with a vehicle hijacking while your child is in the car is a harrowing thought for any parent. While the actuality of such a situation is terrifying, it may be a good idea to role-play it with your family and discuss how to respond and maintain composure – presuming your children are of age.

Research from SCP Security shows that with the emergence of home deliveries in the last year, homeowners are increasingly targeted when they wait at their gate for a delivery, with criminals blocking the gate to access the property and vehicles.

Hijackers in the country are adjusting their tactics to accommodate emerging technologies. This includes the rising usage of key reprogrammers and signal grabbers to combat new automotive technologies such as “push-to-start” buttons.

What car models are most at risk?

Regarding automobiles and vehicle types that hijackers target, bakkies remain at the top of the list for the likelihood of being hijacked.

Research also indicates that hijackers most frequently target Toyota and Volkswagen vehicles, with models such as Toyota Hilux, Volkswagen Polo, Toyota Quantum, and Nissan NP200.

“Our stats are consistent with the latest SAPS statistics, which indicate that sedans, hatchbacks, and bakkies are the most frequently stolen vehicle types in the country,” says Clive Maher, CEO of SCP Security.

“Every day of the week, hijackings occur, with a peak on Fridays. The peak number of hijackings occurs between 4 pm and 8 pm, between 12 pm and 8 pm.

Most hijackings occur in residential driveways, as hijackers favour locations where vehicles are moving slowly or are parked, preferably in areas with accessible escape routes.

Other hotspots include traffic lights or junctions, the side of the road (when the motorist pauses to answer the phone, for instance), schools, petrol stations, parking lots, and passenger pick-up zones.”

Typical modes of operation of hijackers include the following:

  • Boxing in: Choosing locations from which victims cannot simply flee.
  • Forced stop: Using motor vehicles to force the victim off the road.
  • False pretences: Posing as possible buyers of advertised autos interested in a test drive.
  • Blue light: Pretending to be police officers or traffic officials.

Hijacking And Car Theft Prevention Tips

To keep safe and prevent falling victim to hijackers, SCP Security recommends the following hijacking and car theft prevention tips and what to do in the event of a hijacking:

  1. Remember that no car or possession is more important than you or your children’s lives. Cars and possessions can be replaced, lives cannot.
  2. Under NO circumstances, lose your temper, argue, threaten or challenge the hijackers. They are nervous to start with, so if you upset them, they might retaliate and hurt you or your family.
  3. Prepare yourself psychologically and physically for a hijacking by rehearsing a scenario with your family. Role-play scenarios with your children so they are more prepared should a hijacking incident occur.
  4. As challenging as it may sound, in the event of a hijacking, always try to maintain your composure, as the hijacker will react based on your reaction.
  5. Acknowledge the presence of the hijacker, avoid eye contact, and keep your hands exposed.
  6. If you have a baby inside the car (in a car seat, for example) and are confronted by hijackers while you are standing outside the car, tell the hijackers that you have a baby in the car and that you are going to take your baby out of the car. Do not make sudden or unexpected movements; move towards the door calmly and open it. Take your baby out and move away from the car as soon as possible.
  7. If you and your baby are inside the vehicle, you may want to reach between the seats to retrieve your child. Remember to tell the hijacker you are going to be removing your child.
  8. When you are inside your vehicle with the doors closed, you are still in a “safe zone;” therefore, arrange your child’s car seat on the passenger side of the vehicle so you can reach back, remove your child’s safety belt, and take them with you when you depart the vehicle. Young children must exit the vehicle with you on the same side and through the same door. Do not get separated. Move away from the car as soon as possible. Older children may exit the vehicle on their own. It is essential that you tell them to stay calm and not argue or shout.
  9. Avoid exiting the vehicle first and then opening the rear doors to retrieve your child. If, however, you are forced to exit your vehicle while your child is still restrained in a car seat, take the car keys with you as a ‘bargaining chip’.
  10. If your children are old enough, remove the child safety lock from your vehicle and teach them how to remove their safety belts, escape the vehicle, and get to safety.
  11. At all times, communicate with the hijackers and avoid making unexpected movements.
  12. All citizens are encouraged to be vigilant, especially in areas where your car will be travelling slowly or coming to a complete stop. Avoid distractions and pay close attention to your environment.
  13. Know your neighbours, remove hiding areas from your driveway, and ensure it is well-lit. Don’t forget to lock your doors when driving.
  14. Plan your route carefully to avoid driving at risky hours, in unsafe places, or by stopping or driving more slowly, making you an easier target. Alter your routines and travels to prevent becoming an easy target.
  15. If you believe that you are being followed, take a few detours. If you are still being followed, drive to the closest police station or alert SCP Security.
  16. If you and your children are victims of a hijacking, seek help and professional support in the form of trauma counselling to deal with post-traumatic stress.

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