At the launch of the Mahindra XUV300 in South Africa, the company hosted a hijack management and prevention course by MasterDrive.
While the new XUV300 was the star of the show, the hijacking management and prevention course was highly informative – and I would recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about protecting themselves.
The MasterDrive instructor that presented the course said criminal activity in the country slowed down significantly when the Covid-19 lockdown came into effect nearly two years ago.
However, now that restrictions have been removed, hijacking incidents have drastically increased as syndicates need to “make up for lost income.”
The session continued with the instructor explaining that hijackers tend to target motorists who do not seem to be paying attention to their surroundings.
For example, by being on their phone, and people who have essentially “parked themselves in” at traffic lights by stopping too close to the car in front of them.
He also said that hijackers can monitor a person’s daily routine to see when the best time would be to strike.
The criminals tend to target vehicles with one passenger, he said, and gender does not play a large role in who they choose.
Do not be a target
To look like less of a prime target, the instructor said motorists should put their valuables out of sight, always pay attention to their surroundings at traffic lights, and shake up their daily routines every once in a while.
Additionally, he said motorists should leave their keys and phones off their person when inside the vehicle, as stealing these are critical parts of the operation for hijackers.
Due to modern cars often being fitted with keyless entry and push-button start, hijackers want to take the key with them to make things easier.
Regarding taking a victim’s cellphone: criminals only need around 30 minutes before your vehicle is gone for good. They therefore want to prevent you from calling someone within that time frame.
Due to the prevalence of hijacking in South Africa, the instructor said cars bound for the local market are usually coded to allow the car to drive away without a key inside – since if the car cuts out shortly after the hijacker took it, they will come back to where you’re standing to get the key.
How to act
If you do find yourself in a hijacking situation with a firearm pointed at your window, the instructor said you should not try to drive away – as it will likely lead to you being shot at.
He explained that you should lift up both hands and point them outwards to show that you are unarmed and willing to cooperate.
You must then unhook the safety belt from your right arm, flip the car into neutral, and pull up the handbrake all using only your left hand, keeping your right hand in the air at all times.
When getting out of the car you must keep your hands next to your face and folded arms in front of your body for these parts to provide protection from possible attacks, and keep your back close to the side of the car.
He also said that no matter how many passengers are in the car, each person should exit from the driver’s door to keep the hijacker calm and to avoid potential mishaps that might arise from startling an agitated criminal with a weapon pointed at you.