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How to react in the event of a hijacking

Nobody climbs into their car expecting to be hijacked en route to their next destination. But, it happens. Every 32 minutes a vehicle is hijacked in South Africa. 

The official Q1 2021/2022 South African crime statistics released by Police Minister Bheki Cele reveal that hijacking increased by 92.2% compared to the same period last year. A total of 4 973 hijackings were reported across the country over the period. In Gauteng, this number increased by a whopping 97.8%, with 2 704 incidents.

“The best way to protect yourself from a carjacking is to be aware of your surroundings and do whatever you can to prevent it from happening altogether,” says Eugene Herbert, CEO of MasterDrive.

Navigate the unexpected

The prospect of being targeted in a hijacking is frightening. It's a scenario that you hope to never find yourself in. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, the reality is that it could happen to any one of us. That’s why it’s important to have the appropriate knowledge that will allow you to safely navigate this unfortunate event. 

Here are some tips on how you should react in the event of a hijacking:

1. Don’t resist and do as you’re told

While your first instinct may be to retaliate when your life and possessions are threatened, avoid this reaction at all costs. Yes, it’s your car and you’ve worked hard to own and drive it, but hopefully it’s also insured, so unlike your life, it can be replaced, along with your other possessions inside the vehicle. 

The best way to handle the situation is to not threaten or challenge the hijackers in any way, especially if they are carrying a weapon such as a gun or a knife. 

Calmly just leave all your valuables in the vehicle, surrender your car and move away from it as quickly as possible without making any sudden moves. Always try your best to place as much distance as possible between yourself and the hijackers.

2. Don’t make any sudden movements

As previously mentioned, trying to be a hero is a move criminals expect from the people they’re stealing from, so the hijackers are more likely to be startled by any sudden movements and they may perceive it as a threat. Their response could be to panic which could result in them retaliating aggressively. 

Keep your hands clearly visible at all times, preferably in the air. “The safety belt can put you at risk of getting shot at,” a hijacker told Independent Media in an interview. “When you reach to unclick your seatbelt, we might panic and think that you are reaching for a weapon, and that is when you get shot.”

Lift both your hands up and spread your ten fingers wide apart to show you're not holding anything, which sends a message that you are not a threat to the hijacker, advises Derek Kirby, Ford South Africa's advanced and defensive driving expert.

Avoid making eye contact with hijackers and speak slowly and calmly so as not to further aggravate the hijackers.

3. Subtly gather information

Instead of looking for a way out of the situation by challenging the hijackers, use the time in which you’re being told to give up your car to gather as much information as you can without posing a threat to the hijackers. 

It’s a stressful situation but taking note of small and important details that will be useful to police at a later date helps when making a statement which will help hopefully get your car back. This information includes:

  • How many hijackers are involved in the crime
  • General descriptions of the hijackers and the clothes they were wearing
  • How many firearms or weapons were used and what they look like
  • The type of language and accent they used
  • The direction they drove off in after taking your car
  • All the belongings left in your car at the time of the hijacking

What to do after the hijacking

As soon as you are safe, you must borrow a phone and call the South African Police Service on 08600 10111. SAPS should arrive on the scene and dispatch medical services if required. Should you require any other emergency numbers, you can phone 112 on any cellular network.

1. Activate your tracking device

If you have an active tracking device from Cartrack, immediately alert Cartrack’s control operations room by phoning 0861 111 564.

Vehicle tracking has become an important technology for the safety of not only fleet vehicles but also for the individual driver. With the extensive range of optional extras offered by Cartrack, you will be covered for almost every eventuality, including a hijacking.

2. Don’t panic, push the button

When you tap the Protector button on the Cartrack app, it unleashes a world of tools that come to your rescue, managed by highly-trained control room operators: 

  • Our team will contact you to determine what kind of assistance you need 
  • The closest, most appropriate provider will be dispatched to your exact location
  • Help will arrive based on real-time analysis of the GPS and satellite technology embedded in your installed device

Cartrack’s Protector feature is an additional, optional service that is available on all Cartrack’s packages. Our emergency control room teams are always ready to support you in the unfortunate event of vehicle theft or hijacking. They will communicate directly with our private response teams and local police to ensure a rapid response.

3. Sound the alarm

“Install apps on your phone that friends and family can use to track your location should you not arrive on time,” says Herbert. The Share Location feature on the Cartrack app allows drivers or individuals to share their exact location from anywhere. This comes in handy when hijackers are driving off with your car, leaving you stranded. Sharing your trip before hitting the road is ideal to get the best of this feature.

Another great feature is geofencing, to alert you when entering a predefined high-risk area. “Investigate high-risk areas,” advises Herbert.  “This is not to say you shouldn’t drive in those areas, but knowledge of this information can help you make the best decisions for your safety.”

Near or far, we’ll watch your car

A Cartrack tracking unit in your car ensures that no matter how far you go or who illegally dispossesses you of your car, there will always be a team of experts ready to come to your rescue. Contact us today for ultimate peace of mind and find out why #DriversLoveUs

Business or pleasure? Our SARS-compliant logbook does it all from one app.

A car is hijacked every 32 minutes in South Africa. Don’t be scared – be prepared. Here are some helpful hints that could save your life in a hijacking

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