Safety in your car

How to avoid a hijacking situation

  • Be familiar with your environment. Be constantly on the look-out for suspicious-looking characters or vehicles and do not hesitate to report them to the police.
  • Know your destination and the directions to it, and be alert if you get lost
  • Ensure that your vehicle is always in good running condition with good tyres and an adequate amount of fuel for your planned trip. Ensure that your spare wheel is always inflated
  • Lock all your doors and shut all your windows before driving off
  • Don’t talk on the cellphone while driving, as this will distract your attention
  • Constantly check your rear-view mirror and side-view mirrors for anything suspicious. Be observant of suspicious vehicles. If you notice that you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station
  • If your car is bumped from behind and you do not feel comfortable with the individual/s involved in the situation, drive to the nearest police station for help.
  • Undo your seatbelts as soon as you have reached your destination and the car has been switched off. This allows you to react fast in an emergency
  • Never leave keys in the ignition when climbing our of the car to open gates
  • Always park your car in well-attended parking lots. If you will be working late into the night plan well ahead and avoid deserted parking areas or arrange for someone to accompany you to your vehicle
  • Always walk around your car and inspect if you have parked somewhere else than at your home. Look for signs of tampering or break-in
  • Don’t wait in your car when picking up people. Either get out and lock the car, or drive around the block until they arrive
  • NEVER, EVER pick up Hitchhikers
  • Don’t fall prey to someone driving by or standing at the stop street, traffic light or roadside pointing out that there is something wrong with your car, as this may be a trap to get you to stop or roll down your window and allow easy access to you or your belongings. If possible, drive to a filling station or police station
  • Always alternate your routes and travel schedules to and from work. Remember: Hijackers are professionals and they plan their attacks carefully
  • Whenever possible, don’t travel alone after dark
  • When dropping off a passenger, make sure he or she is safely in his or her own vehicle or house before departing

When parking your vehicle

  • Check the rear-view mirror to ensure that you are not being followed
  • Be on the look-out for suspicious vehicles or persons
  • When returning home after dark, ensure that there is an outside light on, or have someone meet you at the gate or door
  • When exiting your vehicle, be cautious and aware of surrounding obstructions and bushes that may conceal a hijacker
  • Never sit in your parked car without being fully conscious of your surroundings. Sleeping in a stationery vehicle is dangerous

If confronted by a hijacker

The aim is to survive the crime. Accept that you are going to lose a valuable possession, your vehicle.

  • Do not lose your cool, threaten or challenge the hijacker
  • Do exactly as told by the hijackers. Surrender your vehicle and move away.
  • Don’t reach for your purse or valuables. This may threaten the hijackers and you may get hurt. Leave everything in the vehicle. Remember – the hijackers will be as nervous, if not more so than you.
  • Answer any questions truthfully, especially with regard to firearms. If the hijacker finds out or suspects that you have lied to him, he is more likely to turn violent and unleash his frustrations on you physically
  • Even in your shocked and terrified state, try to listen and understand exactly what the hijackers want from you.
  • Try to remain calm at all times and do not show signs of aggression. Keep your hands still and visible to the hijacker, to give him or her assurance that you do not intend fighting back. Whatever movement you make, do it slowly.
  • Gather as much information without posing a threat. How many hijackers are there, what they are wearing, their ages and any facial and physical features? This does not mean staring at your attackers, making it obvious that you are looking at ways of identifying them
  • If you have a baby sleeping in the back seat, which they may not have noticed, tell the attackers. Do the same if you have a pet in the car.
  • Phone the police immediately after the hijackers have left the scene
  • Know the full description and registration number of your vehicle and call, or have someone call, the SAPS emergency number 10111
  • Immediately proceed to stop all bank accounts that may be accessed through the loss of any personal belongings, blacklist your cell phone, report your ID stolen, and change the locks to any door keys that have been taken

Prevent smash-and-grab-incidents

People who pounce on unsuspecting drivers have turned some pleasant rides into nightmares. They smash the window or open an unlocked door and grab whatever they regard as of value

Whether your vehicle is moving or stationery, bear the following in mind:

  • Lock all your doors and close all the windows. Thieves steel handbags and other valuables by opening car doors or even by breaking windows while your car is stationary at traffic lights or stuck in slow-moving traffic
  • Don’t have bags, cellphones, briefcases or other valuables visible in the vehicle. Lock all valuables in the boot of your car or behind the seat if it is a bakkie.
  • Be constantly on the look-out for suspicious-looking characters. Don’t hesitate to report them to the police.
  • When approaching a red traffic light at night, slow down so that you only reach it when it turns green and therefore do not need to stop
  • Be wary of people standing at traffic lights or intersections. They may be innocent but perpetrators mix with these people while waiting for an opportunity to pounce. They may even point to something being wrong with your vehicle to get you to open your window or get out of your vehicle
  • Never open your vehicle window or door for any stranger
  • If you encounter obstacles in the road such as rocks or tyres, do not get out of your vehicle to remove them. Immediately reverse and drive off in the opposite direction
  • Thieves target car parks. Always park your car in attended parking lots
  • When parking at night, ensure that you always park in a well-lit area
  • Never sit in your vehicle without being fully conscious of your surroundings. Sleeping in stationary vehicle is dangerous
  • Always remove radios, CDs or cassette players, if possible
  • Never leave any children alone in a vehicle, not even for a moment. Take them with you, wherever you go. Children often innocently allow access to your car and belongings to criminals and out themselves in danger.

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