We hope it'll never happen to any of us, but it's best to be prepared to safeguard you and your family should you be involved in a vehicle hijacking situation. Here are 10 things to keep in mind when one or more hijackers attack you.
According to the South African Police Service, a vehicle is hijacked every 32 minutes in South Africa. Statistics released by the SAPS in March 2017 revealed that a total of 12 743 vehicles were hijacked between April and December 2016, which is 14.9% more than in the 2015/2016 financial year.
In 2016, the National Hijacking Prevention Academy found that although some criminal trends change, the time of day and days of the week that hijackings take place remain constant. Friday is the most popular day for a hijacking, followed by Tuesday and you're least likely to be hijacked on a Saturday or Sunday. The rest of the weekdays are pretty even. Time-wise, the highest risk time is between 4 pm–8 pm, followed by 4 am–8 am.
Here are 10 things to keep in mind if you are hijacked:
- Stay calm! This sounds ridiculous, but the last thing you should do is antagonise the hijacker/s. You want to co-operate as much as possible and you certainly do not want to threaten or challenge them. Do exactly as you are told.
- Unbuckle your seatbelt with your left hand and immediately raise your hands above your head to show the hijacker/s you're unarmed.
- Do not turn off your vehicle's engine.
- If the hijacker instructs you to get out of the car, do so as quickly as possible and try to put as much space between you and the car/hijackers as you can. If the hijacker/s is/are armed and you are under their control, remain still and obey orders.
- If you have a child/children in the back seat, make your hijacker/s aware of this and tell them that you are going to take them out of the vehicle. The eldest child should always be positioned behind the driver seat. Open the rear door, put your one foot inside the car as you lean over and unclip the child/baby’s seat belt (this is in case the hijacker drives off you will be thrown into the car with your child), tell the older child to cling to you as you move out of the car, this way you get both of them out at the same time. It’s not a bad idea to discuss a potential situation with your older children. Unfortunately, this the reality we live in. If you’re in a situation where the hijackers will not allow you get your children out, take the car keys as a bargaining tool – although this is always risky.
- Speak slowly and clearly so, that they are able to understand exactly what it is you're saying and do not make sudden movements.
- If the hijacker keeps you in the car and forces you to drive off, bump into another car while you are still at a slow speed. There is a good chance that this will get you out of the situation.
- If you are kidnapped by a hijacker/s, try and remain orientated regarding your movements, directions, time and place. If the car is stopped and they are armed, but you are not under their control at any moment, try to flee! If they shoot they will have a very small chance of actually hitting you.
- Do not make eye contact with the hijacker.
- Don’t be a hero – your life is more important than your car.
These tips can only serve as a guideline because every situation is different. The best tip, above all, is to try and remain calm as you can and do as you are told. In a highly stressful hijacking situation, you won't be dealing with rational assailants so there is no point in trying to resist (or reason with) them. This is your life and the life of your family, always keep that in mind, don’t give the car or any possessions in the car a second thought.