According to statistics released by the South African Police Service 1 416 motor vehicles are hijacked in every month, that is 32 vehicles every 32 minutes.
An incident report from 2016 stated that Nyanga in the Western Cape ranked at the top of the list for most hijackings in an area. Close second, Booysens in Gauteng ranked with a staggering amount of 207 hijackings in one year. Honeydew in Gauteng, however ranked first place for highest amount of stolen vehicles with over 800 vehicle being reported stolen.
This begs the question, which vehicles are the safer option?
Ctrack, a vehicle company, released hijacking & vehicle theft statistics detailing which vehicles criminals target more. At the very top of their list of passenger vehicles the Volkswagen Polo ranked at number one. The most hijacked SUV was Toyota’s Fortuner. With the Volkswagen Polo and Polo Vivo being the bestselling passenger vehicles in South Africa, and the Toyota Fortuner a close third, more opportunities are created for these criminals.
The top 10 most hijacked and stolen passenger vehicles in South Africa are: Volkswagen, Toyota, Ford, Citroën, Kia, Hyundai, BMW, Audi, Renault and Chevrolet. The top 10 most hijacked and stolen SUV’s in South Africa are: Toyota, Land Rover, Nissan, Mahindra, Volkswagen, Jeep, Porsche, Renault, Ford and Daihatsu.
With Suzuki one of the least hijacked brands in South Africa.
With that being said, we never know when these criminals may strike and we cannot (yet) prevent crime 100%. However, there are several steps you can take to try and reduce the chances that you become a victim.
These are some of the steps to keep in mind:
- When parking away from home, pick a secure area with good lighting as far as possible.
- When returning to your car, have your keys in your hand, but out of sight. And only unlock your car when you are close to it.
- Keep any valuables out of sight, preferably in the boot if possible.
- Always drive with your windows closed and your doors locked.
- Be vigilant. Keep an eye on your mirrors frequently to notice any suspicious vehicle or pedestrians in your vicinity.
- Slow down when approaching a red robot at night, that way you only reach it by the time it turns green and you avoid the need to stop completely.
- When stopping at a robot, keep at least half a car’s length between you and the car in front of you, leaving space in order to be able to make an escape if needed.
- If you suspect that you are being followed, drive straight to your nearest police station.
- Do not become predictable. Change your route regularly to avoid criminals identifying a routine.
- Ensure your driveway at home is well lit, and clear of shrubs or bushes perpetrators can hide in and surprise you.
If, at any stage, you do end up in a hijacking, there are steps you could follow to help you live to tell the tale. Unfortunately, not all criminals are the same and not one hijacking can be measured to another, even if by the same perpetrator. However, here are some tips to assist you in a hijack situation:
- Remain calm (I know, easier said than done), remember, hijackers want to get in and get out as swiftly as possible. If you make is harder for them to get away, you increase the chances of violence.
- Be non-confrontational. Do not try to fight back. This will only increase the chances of you being hurt. Chances are that the thieves will just take what they want and leave, without harming you.
- Hand over your car keys if asked to do so and get out of the vehicle as soon as possible. You do not want to be stuck in the car in their rush to get out of there.
- Try to notice as much as possible. Any detail of the perpetrators may assist in finding them. Their age, features, build, scars, tattoos. Anything notable.
Ctrack’s report also stated that hijackings were more likely to occur between 6pm and 12am in Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal and between 12- and 6am in the Western Cape. Statistics showed that more hijackings we reported on Tuesdays than any other day of the week.
Due to technological improvements in most vehicles, criminals turn to hijacking instead of car theft to make the job easier. Most hijacking targets are carefully chosen prior to the incident, with extra care taken to target victims who will be least likely to resist in an attack.
However, just because your area, or the area that you are traveling through is not on the list of high risk hijacking areas, does not mean that you should let your guard down. There are hijackings happening every day, everywhere across the country. Opportunistic crimes are increasing at a rapid rate. It is our own responsibility to stay alert, to stay alive.