File picture: Creating a fender bender forcing you to stop, this is the latest trend in the modus operandi of hijackers, according to police and Tracker's national manager.
Durban - Creating a fender bender, forcing you to stop - and then getting out of the car which has just bumped yours. This is the latest trend in the modus operandi of hijackers.

On the sidelines of the annual Tracker Provincial Awards in Durban on Wednesday, provincial SAPS spokesman Brigadier Jay Naicker said: “While the most common modus operandi (MO) remains vehicles being targeted in driveways or on pavements, there has been a different MO where hijackers will bump your vehicle, so you will stop and get out. The public need to be alert and if they suspect this may be happening, drive to the nearest police station or safest spot.”

According to the SAPS national crime statistics released on Thursday, other methods favoured include using a vehicle to push a motorist onto an off ramp; throwing an object on the road; posing as a beggar or window cleaner; pouring something on the road; pointing to a tyre indicating you may have a flat; or pretending to ask for assistance.

The national crime statistics, which cover the period from April 2018 to March 2019, revealed that firearms were used in 1104 hijackings, while in 29 cases hijackers pepper sprayed their victims’ eyes, in five cases the hijackers used a brick to break a car window, and in one incident a knobkierie was used.

Nationally, the most commonly hijacked cars are Toyotas (5253), followed by VW (2877).

Tracker’s national manager, operational services, Leon Bothma, who was in Durban for the ceremony, also highlighted the “fender bender” trend, but agreed being hijacked in your driveway remained the top choice.

Bothma advised drivers to switch off music or a car radio about five minutes before getting to your driveway because “the silence makes you more alert as to what is happening around your vehicle”.

The latest Tracker Vehicle Crime Index noted an increase in hostage-taking this year. While the national statistics showed uMlazi, Mariannhill and KwaMashu to be the three top hijacking spots, the Tracker Index, which covers their clients, showed Sydenham, Imbali and Avoca Hills as the most common spots in Durban for hijackings.

On Thursday night, a mother and her son were taken on a nightmare drive by hijackers who held up the woman as she waited outside a Berea property to pick up her son at about 7pm.

Blue Security community and media liaison officer, Andreas Mathios, said the woman pulled up outside the property when the gang of hijackers struck.

“The motorist had parked outside the property where she was waiting for her son. When her son got into the vehicle, a black Audi and a silver Toyota Etios stopped behind her vehicle and two suspects jumped out and approached them,” Mathios said.

“The hijackers took the vehicle and fled with the mother and her son to the uMlazi area. They were later found unharmed in uMlazi where the suspects eventually abandoned the vehicle.”

Also on Thursday night, a man was shot in an attempted hijacking in Avoca, in which two suspects attempted to steal his Datsun vehicle. They fired a shot, injuring the driver, before fleeing the scene, according to Marshall Security, whose spokesperson, Kyle van Reenen, who also confirmed the rise in hostage taking during hijackings.

“We believe this is to delay the reporting of the incident to tracking companies and give the hijackers a head start. In most instances, victims are dropped off in remote locations and vehicles are found later abandoned,” he said.

Also at the Tracker Awards, the SAPS Provincial Vehicle Crime Task Team KZN took home the award as the winning police unit. This was for their courage and long hours in what was described as a highly dangerous environment, for arrests made and their “significant impact in locating and recovering stolen and hijacked vehicles” in the province.

The team is Warrant Officer Shaun Mcfall, Constable Sthembile Mantiyane, Sergeant Charles Raynolds and Constable Siphelele Cele, who won the provincial individual award. Head of the unit, Brigadier Makhosazana Kheswa, said she was proud of her officers’ “tireless efforts and many hours spent tracking down hijacked and stolen vehicles”.

Independent on Saturday