Approaching and entering your driveway:
- Two kilometres 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 inside the gate and select reverse gear while waiting for the gate to close. This creates confusion and may buy you a few seconds for the gate to close completely behind you.
- Check your driveway and street before you leave or enter your premises.
- Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear of shrubbery where perpetrators can hide.
- Be aware of unknown pedestrians close to your residential address – do not turn into your driveway; drive past and go back later.
- Liaise with your neighbours – know them.
- Be aware of vehicles parked close to your address with occupants inside. They may be perpetrators observing the area.
- Be alert if your animals do not greet you at the gate as usual. It may be that the perpetrators have subdued them.
- Phone your home and ask 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 is around and that 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.
- If your children are older, it is advised that they exit the vehicle with you when opening the gate so that you are all separated from the vehicle should an attack occur.
Parking your vehicle:
- Check rear-view mirror to ensure you are not being followed.
- When exiting your vehicle, be cautious and aware of surrounding obstructions and shrubbery that may be concealing a hijacker.
- Never sit in your parked vehicle without being conscious of your surroundings. Sleeping in a stationary vehicle is particularly dangerous.
- When approaching your driveway, be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles / persons. This is very important as the majority of hijackers approach their victims in home driveways.
While entering your vehicle and while driving, the following should be considered:
- Have your key ready, but not visible.
- Inspect the outside and inside of the vehicle before unlocking. Check underneath your vehicle for items placed under the wheels. Also make sure nobody is hiding on the passenger side before you enter your vehicle. (As explained during the hijack prevention & survival course)
- 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 departing.
- 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 centre lane away from pedestrians where possible.
- If possible, never drive alone.
- NEVER, EVER pick up hitchhikers or strangers. (VERY IMPORTANT)
- Never follow routine routes when driving; change on a regular basis.
- If approached by a stranger while in your vehicle, drive off if possible or use your hooter to attract attention.
- Lock your doors, close your windows and do not have bags or briefcases visible in the vehicle. Use the boot for this. Cell phones should also not be visible.
- If there are times and days that these items are visible in the vehicle, try and open the window they might “smash & grab” about 3cm, so that the window can absorb any sudden impact. If you’ve left a reasonable stopping distance, you may be able to escape.
- Be constantly on the lookout for suspicious characters or vehicles and do not hesitate to report them to the SAPS.
- Always be on the alert for potential danger, and be on the lookout for possible escape routes and safe refuge along the way.
- When approaching a red traffic light at night, slow down so that you only reach it when it turns green.
- Do not take anything from people standing at traffic lights or places where they gather (job seekers at gathering points). Perpetrators are usually standing among these people.
- Ensure that you are not followed. If you suspect you are being followed, drive to the nearest Police Station or any busy public area.
- If any person or vehicle in a high-risk area arouses your suspicions, treat the situation as hostile and take appropriate action… When approaching a red traffic light, slow down, check for oncoming traffic and, if clear, drive through the intersection. A fine will be preferable to an attack. Treat stop streets in the same way. Thereafter call for assistance if necessary. Always report these incidents to the SAPS. But remember, this is not an excuse to ignore the rules of the road. The onus will be on you to prove in a court of law that you had justifiable reason to act the way you did and this is only in the case of a real, life-threatening emergency.
- Should a suspicious vehicle in fact be a (unmarked) SAPS vehicle, the Police must identify themselves:
- By use of a blue light, loudspeaker or any other police equipment.
- The flash of a badge through the window while driving is not enough.
- The Police must go all-out in order to let the public know who they are.
- Consider the following actions:
- Switch on emergency lights and put your hand out of the window (if possible), indicating that they should follow you. Your intention must be very clear and understandable.
- By exceeding the speed limit, you are sending out a message of suspicion, e.g. stolen / hijacked vehicle, transporting stolen goods, under the influence of liquor.
- Drive to the nearest Police Station, or when in doubt, the nearest busy public area.
- Always have your identity document and driver’s license in your possession as well as a pen and notebook to take necessary notes.
- If possible, avoid driving in the dark. Hijackers may stage a minor accident. If your vehicle is bumped from behind and you do not feel comfortable with the individual involved in the situation, indicate he / she must follow you and drive to the nearest Police Station or any busy public area for help.
- Never open your vehicle window or door for any stranger. If a suspicious person is near your unoccupied vehicle, do not approach the vehicle. Walk to the nearest public area and ask for assistance.
- If you encounter obstacles in the road, e.g. rocks, tyres, do not get out of your vehicle to remove them. Reverse and drive away in the opposite direction.
- Do not stop to eat or rest on deserted roads.
- Do not leave your vehicle unattended at a filling station.
- Cell phones should be carried on the body. Perpetrators will not allow you to remove your cell phone and valuables from the vehicle during an attack.
Source : National Hijack Prevention Academy.