Another safety and security article for you in the series started thanks to my work sending out the Security tips email…
Do you live in South Africa? I do…
Do you know anybody who’s been hijacked? I do…
Are you nervous when pulling into a driveway at night? I am
Want to try prevent being hijacked? Read below…
Tips to prevent hijacking
Carjackings can take place anywhere, but happen most frequently in driveways. In fact, all of the people I know who were victims of hijackings have said it took place in their own driveway, or in the driveway of a friend’s house.
And, time and place do not make much difference. It can happen in Soweto, or it can happen in Sandton. And, whether it’s a busy road or not. In fact, peak hour seems to be the most common time for hijackings as this is when most people are just focused on (rushing?) to work.
So, here are a few tips to help prevent being hijacked:
- Stay alert! Look around and get the BIG PICTURE of your surroundings. It is also important to look alert and purposeful. Carjackers look for victims who give the appearance of not paying attention or who appear to be lost. Look around, especially to the sides and rear, count the numbers of people and the cars around you.
- Be extra alert 2 km from your destination, switch off the car radio and concentrate on your surroundings. Check whether you are being followed.
- Be particularly alert at stop lights or intersections. When traveling through these points at night, be prepared to take appropriate evasive action. Drive up to red traffic lights slowly to avoid long waits for a green light.
- When approaching your vehicle, do so with car keys in hand. Especially when exiting shopping malls with shopping trolleys or bags. Even if rushed, look around and inside your car before getting in.
- Ask parking attendants to assist with loading your bags so that you can remain alert and aware of your surroundings. Survey your surroundings. If the scene is safe, get in the vehicle rapidly and quickly depart the area. If encountering suspicious activity, do not hesitate to hurry back to a safer location.
- Never sit in a stationary vehicle while parked in locations such as a roadside, parking lot, shopping centre, church or driveway.
- Alter routes and avoid traffic choke points.
- Be alert to being followed.
- Leave an escape route on maneuvering room when stopping or slowing the vehicle. Always stop half a car length behind the car in front of you. Becoming boxed in makes for an easy target.(Hint: you usually have enough room to maneuver if you can see the rear tyres of the vehicle stopped ahead of you).
- Be suspicious of people standing at roadside or near a stopped vehicle. Consider why this person is standing where they are. Some victims have observed the perpetrator before the crime but the victim disregarded assailants as a threat because they ‘looked innocent,’ were just ‘hanging around,’ or were ‘nicely dressed.’
- Trust your instincts. If something makes you feel uneasy, leave the area.
- Keep doors locked and windows rolled up with a 5cm gap at the top.
- Keep your bag on the floor, but preferably in boot.
- Be familiar with all ignition locking devices or security systems in your car. Do not hesitate to explain them to the carjacker. A frustrated thief may take their tensions out on you. Knowing how to operate the security systems and helping the attackers operate these systems may reduce attackers’ frustration level and reduce the threat to you.
- When driving up to a gate, search for possible concealment points and cars following. Leave enough room between the car and gate so you can drive away without backing up. Park immediately inside the gate and put your car in reverse while waiting for gate to close, then park and leave the car.
- Ensure your driveway is well lit with no shrubs near or around entrance where perpetrators can hide.
- In high or medium risk areas, avoid stopping on the side of a road, even if you have a vehicle emergency. If a dashboard warning light activates, do not turn off the engine – it might not start again. Drive slowly, even on a flat tyre until you reach a public place where you can get help.
- Do not pick up hitch hikers.
- Do not stop to assist strangers. Travel on and report accidents and incidents to the police.
- If you suspect you are being followed, do not drive home. Go to a police station or a safe public place.
- Keep your car well fuelled and in good working order. Do not procrastinate on repairs.
- Keep your cell-phone clipped to you belt – once you leave the area call for help.
- Become familiar with addresses and routes in and out of neighbourhoods, before visiting there. If you do not know the location of the address you are visiting, get a member you trust who knows the area to accompany you. Use a good map and study it before you drive. Do not rely on memory unless you are very familiar with the area or have lived in the area for a long period of time.
- Do not stop a vehicle to interact with people at roadside or to ask directions of strangers.
- Be prepared to stop and turn well ahead of freeway overpasses if suspicious behaviour on the overpass or the road ahead is observed.
- When exiting a vehicle, look around before turning off the ignition.
- Park in well lit areas if you plan to arrive and leave after dark. Avoid parking near locations where thieves may conceal themselves.
- Do not park next to large vehicles from which carjackers may emerge or behind which they may be more easily concealed.
- Never leave valuables in plain view inside the vehicle. Deposit needed items in the boot.
I hope I haven’t made you paranoid here. But I’d rather you were safe than sorry…
My next article will talk about what to do DURING a hijacking, so I hope you’ve subscribed.
And, if you’re already a subscriber, thank you. Feel free to share this with your family and friends…