In 2016 the National Hijacking Prevention Academy (NHPA) updated its hijacking prevention guidelines – detailing times, areas and patterns typically followed by criminals in hijackings.
The 2016 guidelines found that it has become increasingly difficult to steal a parked motor vehicle in South Africa because of anti-theft devices, such as immobilisers, gear-locks, etc.
Because of these new security features, and the increasing retrenchment and high unemployment figures, it was now even easier for vehicle hijacking to be run as an organised business.
Specific vehicles with specific characteristics are ordered beforehand and efforts have to be made to meet the requirements of such orders. These vehicles will then be resold to the already predetermined buyer.
Speaking to BusinessTech, Melinda Brussow operations manager at the National Hijacking Prevention Academy (NHPA) explained how hijacking patterns have changed over the past few years and why certain patterns don’t change.
Hijackings are low in the evening and early hours of the morning, and start increasing at 06h00 due to motorists leaving home for work, which then stabilises during the course of the day.
Brussow said that modus operandi and the trends highlighted in the 2016 report don’t change because they are still incredibly effective as proven by the statistics.
“Once a few attacks take place in a specific location, police activity increases and the criminals move to the next spot,” said Brussow.
“It’s a continuing trend. Times also show no significant change, although many attacks have occurred in broad daylight over the last two years.”
Brussow said that criminals have also become increasingly “windgat”, due to unsuccessful crime prevention.
Unusual trends tend to appear and disappear very quickly – likely because they are fake, said Brussow.
“In many of these so-called unusual trends, it is ‘old news’ or fake news resurfacing again after a few years of being spread around on social media,” she said.
“Their MO yields great success and the professional syndicates run it as a business. What has changed is the violence associated with the crime … violence has definitely increased,” she said.
The NHPA outlines the following as a typical modus operandi used by hijackers:
- Most hijackings take place in the driveways of residential areas. These hijackers prefer
areas with accessible escape routes.
- Hijackings take place while stationed at any traffic sign or intersection.
- Hijackings take place while stationary next to the road, e.g. to answer cell phone.
- Hijackings also occur at post offices and parking areas or you may be followed leaving
the filling station with the objective to hijack your vehicle where it is quiet.
- The hijackers sometimes use a vehicle to force the victim off the road.
- Hijackings take place at schools when dropping off / picking up children.
- Hijackings take place while the vehicle is idling when off-loading / loading passengers.
- Hijackings take place when advertising your vehicle for sale (Test drive method).
- Bogus Police or Traffic Officers also conduct hijackings (Blue light scenario).
While hijackers MO may not have changed, this fortunately also means that the more popular ways of preventing a hijacking are still effective, said Brussow.
For home prevention these include:
- The 2km from your house strategy. Be extra alert. Switch off the car radio and concentrate on your surroundings. If you have noticed any vehicle behind you, use the techniques you have learned during the hijack prevention & survival course to determine whether you are being followed.
- Remember to stop your vehicle just on the inside of the gate and select reverse whilst waiting for the gate to close. This creates confusion and may buy you a few seconds for the gate to close completely behind you.
- Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear from shrubbery where perpetrators can hide.
- Be aware of unknown pedestrians close to your residential address – do not turn into your driveway – pass and go back later.
- Liaise with your neighbours – know them.
- Be aware of vehicles parked close to your address with occupants inside. It might be perpetrators observing the area.
- Be alert if your animals do not greet you at the gate as usual. It might be that the perpetrators over-powered them.
- Phone your home and ask for someone to make sure your driveway is safe and to open and close the gate for you.
- When returning home after dark, ensure that an outside light is on, or have someone meet you at the gate. Check with your armed response company if they are rendering rendezvous services.
- If at any time you have to open the gate yourself, make sure nobody suspicious around and the road is clear. Stop right in front of your gate. Do not switch off the vehicle, leave the key in the ignition, get out and close the door (not creating temptation). Then open the gate. Drive in and close the gate immediately behind you
- If you have small children in the vehicle, take the key with you (this is the only exception). You need the key as a “negotiating tool”. The perpetrators want your vehicle and you want your children.
For prevention some of the tips include:
- Know your destination and directions to it; and be alert should you get lost.
- Always drive with your windows closed and doors locked.
- Make a mental note of any Police Stations in the vicinity.
When stopping behind another vehicle, leave half a vehicle length in front of your vehicle to
make an emergency escape if necessary.
- When dropping off a passenger, make sure they are safely in their own vehicle before
- Avoid driving through high crime or unfamiliar areas.
- Avoid driving late at night / early hours of the morning when the roads are quiet.
- Drive in the center lane away from pedestrians where possible.
- If possible, never drive alone.
- Never, ever pick up hitchhikers or strangers.
- Never follow routine routes when driving; change on a regular basis