Hijackings, and smash-and-grab incidents, can occur anytime, and anywhere. Recent reports suggest an increase in both these classes of attacks. The Automobile Association (AA) has warned motorists to be vigilant while driving, and to ensure they take responsibility for their own, and their passengers’ safety.
The most important thing to do is be informed of where the hijacking, and smash-and-grab, hotspots are and to avoid them if possible, especially at night. Car tracking company Ctrack recently released a report of hotspots based on 2016 data that can assist motorists with this. And, of course, it’s vital to not make yourself a target by leaving valuable items in plain sight where potential thieves can see them.
While these incidents – hijackings and smash-and-grabs – are extremely traumatising, it’s critical to remain as calm as possible, particularly if there are young passengers in the vehicle.
If someone is holding gun to your head it’s best to do whatever they want. Explain that you have children in the vehicle and get them, and yourself, out as quickly as possible. Remember, a vehicle can be replaced, your or your child’s life cannot. Apart from this, we advise motorists to report any incidents to the police as soon as possible.
- Always remain focused on the road, do not be distracted by any electronic devices or gadgets,
- When stopping, always check your surroundings for danger and, if possible, leave enough room between yourself and the car ahead of you to drive away,
- Remain as calm as possible,
- Do not leave any valuables in open view. Rather put them in the boot of the car,
- Plan your route, and avoid going to areas you are unfamiliar with. If possible use a GPS device or consult a map beforehand to ensure you know exactly how to get to your destination,
- In the event of a hijacking, keep your hands visible at all times, and obey all instructions. Also explain at all times what you are going to do (“I am now going to unbuckle myself”, I am now going to unlock the door” etc),
- Do not argue with a hijacker, do as he/she says,
- A well maintained vehicle (with enough fuel for whatever journey you are planning) is less likely to break down, and place you in a compromising position on the side of the road,
- Always keep your car doors locked,
- If possible avoid driving alone, especially when it is dark,
- When at home, always check your surroundings for any suspicious vehicles or persons,
- If you think you are being followed, drive to your nearest police station, and,
- Always report any incident to the police as soon as possible.
It is impossible to completely avoid being a target but, if you remain calm, the damage may only be stolen items or, at worst, a stolen car. Don’t try and be a hero, it may cost you dearly.