Avoid stopping your car at the side of the road in dangerous areas.
Pretoria - Despite fewer than normal incidents of car hijackings being reported over the long Christmas weekend, the police have warned residents to remain vigilant as Pretoria remained a hijack hotspot.

Police spokeswoman Augustinah Selepe said while the figures reported were minimal, police and motorists still faced a number of challenges in combating the scourge.

She said often times incidents of hijackings were reported following a night out in the city's entertainment areas. The police noticed that vehicle owners were most times being followed from entertainment areas and robbed of cars and possessions, and also when they gave lifts to strangers.

“Criminals do not rest, nor do they go on holiday,” Selepe said, adding that they did in fact take advantage of the relaxation of the festive season.

“We urge drivers to park where it is visible and safe to do so, as we have high numbers of theft incidents being reported.”

Don't pick up strangers

She also advised motorists to pay particular attention when approaching traffic lights, especially at night and to rather gradually slow down than come to a complete halt.

“We urge drivers not to pick up strangers pretending to be asking for lifts and not to open their windows to people begging at corners.”

Also urging people to always be aware, Tshwane East police spokesman Johan van Wyk spoke of an attempted hijacking reported at the N4 Phumlani tollgate area over the Christmas weekend.

“The occupants had stopped to answer nature's call," he said, "when perpetrators attempted to make a getaway with their vehicle, but they did not succeed.”

Don't stop at the side of the road

Sunnyside police spokesman Daniel Mavimbela echoed similar sentiments, saying, however, they had upped their vigilance and managed to prevent violent crimes, including hijackings and business robberies in the Sunnyside area.

The National Hijack Prevention Academy noted that most hijackings took place in driveways of residential areas, at intersections and while vehicles were stationary at traffic signs.

It cautioned motorists against stopping next to the road to answer their cellphones and to be wary of the test drive method used when advertising one's vehicle for sale.

Bogus police or traffic officers, the use of a vehicle to force the victim off the road and at parking areas or being followed from the filling station, were just some of the modus operandi used by hijackers, it said.

Concentrate on your surroundings

Offering tips to motorists on how to avoid a hijack situation when approaching their homes, the academy advised residents to switch the car radio off and concentrate on their surroundings, to stop the vehicle just on the inside of the gate and select reverse while waiting for the gate to close completely.

They also advised motorists to check driveways and the street before entering and leaving the premises, to be aware of vehicles parked close to their address and to leave the vehicle running, with the key in the ignition and the doors closed if opening the gate manually.

Constantly checking rear-view mirrors and being cautious of surrounding obstructions and shrubbery that could conceal hijackers was another safety tip.

“Additional tips to consider when out and about include inspecting one's car outside and inside of the vehicle before unlocking it, checking underneath the car and to always drive with windows and doors locked,” they said.

The academy said of utmost importance was for motorists to leave half a vehicle length in front of their vehicle to enable them make an emergency escape if necessary.

Pretoria News