While the 2017/2018 South African Police Service (SAPS) crime statistics notes a 2.3% decrease in carjackings, Tracker has noticed and is concerned about an increase in the level of violence used by criminals when committing hijackings.

This year, Tracker records indicate that an average of 18 customers a month experience physical injury during a hijacking, through being shot, stabbed or assaulted – 10% of these incidents are fatal. Criminals are also increasingly taking hostages during hijackings and Tracker has noted that on average 27% of our activations result in a hostage being taken.

“Motorists usually drive the same route daily, leave and get home at the same time. Criminals know this and use the fact that we are becoming complacent,” says Ron Knott-Craig, Executive Operational Services at Tracker South Africa. “We need to stay alert and be vigilant, especially when your vehicle is at a standstill, for example at traffic lights. Avoid distractions while driving such as taking calls or using your mobile phone. Particularly in the evenings – Tracker data indicates that most reports for hijackings take place between 19h00 and 22h00.”

Criminals are evolving daily, and their modus operandi changes according to the circumstances. Don’t believe it could never happen to you. Rather, follow these preventative tips to stay safe and avoid becoming a statistic.

  • Be aware – Don’t be an easy target. While driving, be vigilant about where you are and your surroundings, and check if you’re being followed. Even looking alert may be enough to dissuade potential criminals. If not, either head for a police station or drive to a busy area.
  • A little bit of planning – Plan your route and let someone know what your route is and when to expect you at your destination. If possible, change your routes and your schedule on a regular basis. Also, be alert and on the lookout for suspicious persons or vehicles when leaving or arriving at your home or business.
  • No stopping – Be wary of stopping on the side of the road, particularly if you are alone, in a quiet area or at night. Drive to a place of safety if possible. When approaching a red traffic light, especially at night or dark areas, slow down so that you only reach the traffic light when it turns green.
  • Lock it up – Be careful of engaging with street vendors, because with your car’s window down you are more vulnerable to attack. Always keep your vehicle doors locked and windows closed. Also, avoid driving with your valuables in sight.
  • Testing, testing – Regularly test your tracking device to make sure it’s working, including the assist button if your device has one. Your insurance company can refute a claim if the device is not working properly.

“If you are hijacked, keep calm and co-operate. Avoid direct eye contact with the hijackers and don’t make sudden gestures that could antagonise the hijackers. Report the incident to your tracking company and authorities as soon as possible,” adds Knott-Craig. “Also, try to remember as much detail as possible to provide a good description of the perpetrators to authorities, such as the clothing of the hijackers, location where the crime occurred, and any information that may assist them in identifying and apprehending the perpetrators.”