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Protect yourself against Vehicle Crime

One in every 350 South Africans have had their vehicles stolen or hijacked while one in every 230 have had items stolen from their cars.

Donít end up a statistic. You can take a number of preventative measures not only to protect yourself and your family from harm but also to protect your vehicle against hijacking, vandalism, burglary and theft.

Hints to prevent burglary or theft

  • Always lock your car and take your keys with you.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and people loitering in a parking area.
  • Take all valuables with you or hide them from plain sight inside your vehicle. This applies whether you are driving or whether you are parking your car.
  • When parked keep all windows rolled up and your sunroof closed.
  • Never leave your keys in your car and walk away from your vehicle even if you are running an errand for a minute. It will only take a few seconds for someone to get in and drive away.
  • Always park in well-lit areas and try to park near open businesses.
  • When parking at home, back your car into your driveway so that neighbours can see the front of your car. This may make a potential car thief think twice about hot-wiring your car in plain view.
  • When going out of town, if possible, remove the distributor coil wire from your carís engine.
  • Always set your parking brake and turn your wheels towards the curb with the steering locked. This will make it difficult for thieves to tow the vehicle away.
  • If you have an extractable or removable radio remove it from your vehicle when you park.
  • Never leave children unattended in your car even if your will just be away for a short while. Children are not a deterrent to criminals.

Tips to help prevent hijacking

Hijackers usually prey on the ignorant and innocent. Staying alert, observant and aware of your surroundings is often a motoristís best defense.

  • Always be on your guard near gates, driveways and garages. Look for suspicious people, vehicles and loiterers when arriving home or at work. When the situation looks unsafe rather drive past and return later.
  • Never leave your car running with the keys in the ignition when stopping to open a gate. Remove the keys and lock the car.
  • Be on the lookout for suspicious people when stopping at stop signs or traffic lights or while driving in deserted areas.
  • Drive away quickly when someone suspicious approaches your car.
  • Keep your carís doors locked and the windows closed at all times and wear your safety belt. This makes it difficult for a hijacker to pull you out of your car.
  • Keep valuables such as your handbag or briefcase and cellular telephone out of sight.
  • Donít stop if someone indicates that there is something wrong with your car. Drive to a safe location such as a police station or garage and check you car there.
  • Have your car serviced regularly and make sure that it is in good running condition.
  • Make sure that you have more than enough petrol in your car for the journey. Rather fill-up during the day than having to go to a service station late at night.
  • Separate your house keys from your car keys and never indicate your name, address or vehicle registration number on your key holder. You may have someone waiting for you when you get home. Also separate your petrol cap key from your car keys. This enables you to drive off should you be in danger at a service station.
  • If your car breaks down, drive to a safe place even if it is at a very slow speed or use your cellular telephone to call for assistance. Do not flag down passing motorists to assist you.
  • Make sure that you are not followed home or to your work. If you suspect that you are being followed drive to your nearest police station or a place where there are many people. Avoid quiet areas, especially at night.
  • Make sure that someone knows where you are at all times, on which route you will be travelling and at what time. Stick to the plan or let the person know if there is a change. Also phone ahead if possible to let the person know at what time you expect to be home.
  • If there are obstacles, such as rocks or tree trunks, in the road ahead of you donít get out of your car to remove them. Rather turn around and take a different route.
  • If you are a victim of hijacking donít resist - rather let them take your car than your life. Remember as many details as possible of the hijackers and contact the emergency services immediately.
  • Have a tracking device installed in your car. This could help police to find your car and arrest the hijacker.

Working or travelling alone

The following tips may help to protect you when working late or travelling alone:

  • Plan your trip and let someone know which route you are planning to take. This is especially important if you are travelling to an unfamiliar destination. Know where the service stations and emergency services are along the route.
  • Always have a road atlas in your car.
  • Make sure that you have essential items such as a car jack, wheel spanner and flashlight in your car.
  • Look out for suspicious people before you leave or approach your car.
  • Make sure that no one is hiding in your car before you get in.
  • Avoid using the same road continuously and avoid isolated roads.
  • Never offer hitchhikers a lift.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when sitting in a stationary car.
  • Never leave firearms in your car.
  • When you are planning to work late park your car as near to the exit as possible in a well lit and secure area. Familiarise yourself with the night watchmen and security staff.
  • Make sure that someone knows that you are working late and what time you plan on leaving and arriving home.
  • If you are alone do not stop to assist motorists who seem to be experiencing problems. It may be a setup. Rather phone the emergency services and inform them of the situation.
  • Always have your cellular telephone handy and make sure that the battery is not low.
  • Have your keys ready when you approach your vehicle. Donít start looking for them when you are already at your car.
  • Have your car serviced regularly and make sure that it is in good running condition.
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