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Over 70% of carjackings in South Africa happen here

One’s home is often seen as a safe space, but motorists shouldn’t become relaxed when they arrive on their street after a long day of work.

“Of all the methods carjackers use, the most common place of attack is still right outside the motorist’s home – in the driveway,” said Youlon Naidoo, executive head of claims and procurement at MiWay Insurance.

An estimated 71% of hijackings in South Africa take place right in a victim’s driveway, said Naidoo, and internal data from MiWay has further uncovered that most carjackings occur within a 5km radius of a person’s home, with shopping malls and airports also being commonly targeted.

The majority of incidents happen between 18h00 and 21h00 at night, but rarely in the mornings, he said.

Avoid becoming a victim

While these numbers are alarming, there are several ways to avoid becoming a victim of these heinous criminals which drivers can incorporate into their everyday routines.

One invaluable habit to have is to consistently keep an eye on your rear-view mirror to ensure that no one is following you.

It’s recommended to be suspicious of all vehicles that are potentially trailing you regardless of the make or model, as hijackers are increasingly using an assortment of cars to keep an eye on their targets.

If you do arrive home and there is still a car behind you, do not open the gate and pull into your driveway as this could allow criminals to corner you and gain access to your vehicle and home.

“Instead, drive around the block to see if you can lose the car, or stop parallel to your gate, which will allow you to make a quick getaway should the trailing vehicle slow down,” said Naidoo.

If it looks as though you are still being followed, or should you feel uncomfortable with the situation, drive to your nearest police station instead of back home.

“Having an escape route planned will help to distract criminals and alert them that you have spotted their unusual actions,” said Naidoo.

Another good practice is to alternate your routes home.

Hijackers are more likely to learn your travel patterns and arrival times before they attack, so making these more unpredictable will help keep you and your ride safe.

Stay vigilant

If the unfortunate happens and your vehicle is taken, it’s understandable that you will be upset, but do not lower your guard.

CrimeWatch’s Yusuf Abramjee recently brought to light another method with which hijacking victims are targeted in South Africa – after their vehicle was taken.

The new scam involves criminals obtaining information from insiders in the police force about motorists who have had their cars stolen or hijacked – including the case number, your personal details, and the vehicle’s VIN and registration numbers – and then using this information to contact the victim, claiming that their vehicle has been found.

The scammers explain that a “fee” must be paid to tow the vehicle back from where it was recovered, which according to previous reports ranges anywhere from R2,000 to R3,500.

Once the money is paid over, often into a personal bank account, these scammers vanish without a trace and the victim is left at least R2,000 out of pocket and still without their car.

Areas where these scams have been reported include KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga.

Therefore, hijackings victims should not take any calls from supposed “officials” at face value, and ensure that they are speaking to a real officer before making any payments.

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