What’s any parent’s worst nightmare?
Most likely, the unthinkable — losing their child. The thought of this is more of a reality for South African parents, especially for those living in high-crime areas, areas where vehicle theft and hijacking rates are some of the highest in the world.
If experiencing a hijacking is not bad enough as it is, imagine having to live through this nightmare while your child is in the back seat.
This isn’t just another blog; it’s a heartfelt guide to proactive life-saving measures any parent can apply to keep themselves and their children safe during a hijacking.
Hijackings are incidents where criminals take control of your vehicle without your permission. They usually use threats, violence, or intimidation to do this. Their primary aim is usually to steal your car and its contents and strip it to sell parts or even use it for illegal activities.
These incidents usually occur in high-crime areas, particularly in metropolitan settings where vehicles often come to a stop, such as intersections, drive-throughs, driveways, gated communities or parking lots. There is no way to predict how a hijacking event will play out, it all depends on the criminal’s motives. They can result in different scenarios and affect victims in various ways, including:
Physical harm or death: Depending if there is a struggle, hijacking can cause physical injury or death to the driver and even passengers.
Emotional trauma: For those involved in a hijacking, the event can be distressing, resulting in feelings of fear, worry, or even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) every time you take the wheel or enter a vehicle.
Personal items loss: Hijacking can result in the loss of the vehicle as well as any of your personal belongings such as wallets, phones, watches, and any other valuables in the car.
Understanding what hijackings are and how to be safe on the road is critical for protecting yourself and your loved ones.
Imagine driving down a familiar road with your child in the backseat, lost in conversation and laughter. Suddenly, the unthinkable happens — you find yourself in a hijacking situation. Panic sets in, your heart races, and in that moment, your child’s safety becomes your sole focus. What’s your next move?
Hijackings are a reality in many parts of the world, and they can be a terrifying experience for anyone, especially parents driving with children in the car. Knowledge is power. Even though no one ever thinks they will be involved in a hijacking event, it is important to know how to keep yourself and your children safe if it ever happens.
Here are some steps to help ensure your child and yourself make it out of the situation unharmed.
1. Stay calm: Remaining calm is paramount. Follow the hijackers’ instructions, avoid unnecessary interactions and steer clear of panicking or sudden movements that might escalate tensions.
2. Safety over possessions: Prioritise your child’s safety above all else. Comply with the hijacker’s demands and focus on protecting your child.
3. Visible hands: Always keep your hands visible to signal non-aggression towards the criminals and refrain from reaching for anything unless instructed. This minimises the risk of violence.
4. Strategic child seat placement: Position your child behind your front passenger seat. This enables you to quickly release your child’s safety belt and exit the vehicle together if needed.
5. Calm communication: Avoid antagonising the hijackers. Communicate calmly, informing them of your child’s presence and requesting permission to remove your child safely.
6. Have a plan: Prepare for the worst by having a plan. Make Cartrack Namibia, your first choice. Their recovery team’s swift response can increase the chances of recovering your vehicle if it’s stolen during a hijacking.
The protection of your children is important no matter where you are in your parenting journey, especially when faced with the unexpected, such as a hijacking. Here are some helpful suggestions to keep your kids safe in such a stressful scenario.
If you have a baby and he or she is strapped in their car seat when a hijacking takes place, it is important to calmly inform the hijackers that you have a baby in the car and that you need to remove your baby.
For parents with one child:
For parents with two or more children:
Communication is key. Talk with your children to keep them calm during this stressful circumstance. Being calm will keep them calm. Encourage your children to avoid making eye contact with the hijackers and hold each other’s hands, this will help create a sense of closeness, which can be comforting during such a frightening experience.
While it’s impossible to predict how you’ll respond in such a situation, remaining calm and obedient is your best defence to protect yourself and your children.
Whether you are embarking on a road trip, running errands, or simply going about your daily routine, ensuring your children’s safety in and around vehicles is of utmost importance, not just in hijacking situations.
Here are some practical and valuable tips to safeguard your child’s safety in the car:
Activate child safety locks: Activating your vehicle’s child safety locks is a fundamental step in preventing theft and ensuring your child’s security. This also prevents them from interfering with the vehicle’s controls, reducing the chances of accidents or injuries.
Never leave your child unattended: The temperature inside a parked car can escalate rapidly, posing serious threats like heatstroke. Regardless of the duration, never leave your child alone in a vehicle. Always bring them with you when exiting the car to guarantee their safety.
Stay alert and engaged: While out and about with your child, staying attentive and engaged is vital. Keep them within your line of sight or that of a trusted adult. By maintaining visual contact, you’re well-equipped to react swiftly to potential risks, ensuring their safety. Also, ensure they memorise their address and telephone number, this is crucial information for emergencies.
According to the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) quarterly report, the statistics for the period from April 1 to June 30, 2023, showed 5,488 cars hijacked during these three months.
This equates to an alarming average of 60 cars being stolen daily, with these being the most hijacked vehicles:
Although these are mostly hijacked in South Africa, keep in mind criminals continue to target automobiles regardless of the make and model, so always drive safely and courteously on the road.
In a recent podcast, Bobby Petkov, the CEO of Mit-Mak Motors, shared insights into some emerging hijacking trends. It’s essential to stay informed about these tactics to protect yourself on the road.
1. The ‘Blockage Method’
Imagine you’re stopping for a quick bite at your child’s favourite fast-food place like KFC or McDonald’s and heading towards the drive-through. Before you get your food, the ‘blockage method’ comes into play. Hijackers strategically block your car from both the front and back, trapping you.
With no escape route, they’ll approach your vehicle with a weapon, demanding you to exit. Without being able to move your car away from both ends, they’ll take your car and leave you and your child stranded.
2. The ‘Tap-Tap Trap’ method
In the ‘tap-tap trap method,’ hijackers follow closely behind your car. They intentionally bump your vehicle and pretend it’s an accident. They’ll apologise and suggest you stop and exchange insurance details. Even if they sound sincere, it’s actually a trap. Once you stop, they’ll seize the opportunity and drive off with your car.
3. The ‘Good Samaritan’
This tactic involves hijackers posing as good samaritans. They’ll flag you down, claiming your tyres look flat or indicate something is wrong with your car, and advise you to pull over for a check. Once you’ve pulled over, that’s when they strike, hijacking your vehicle.
It’s crucial to be aware of these tactics and stay vigilant on the road to protect yourself from these emerging hijacking trends.
Once you’ve ensured your child’s safety and submitted the necessary information to the police, your vehicle tracking provider and insurance, it’s critical to seek help for any trauma you or your child have experienced.
There are numerous trauma counselling programmes available to assist you in coping with the emotional and psychological effects of a hijacking event. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), TraumaCall, and ER24 are a few examples. These services are provided by experienced specialists and can assist people in dealing with feelings of fear, worry, and powerlessness.
Cartrack plays a vital role in enhancing safety during vehicle-related emergencies. With a recovery rate above 90%, Cartrack’s globally recognised solutions help ensure your vehicle’s safety.
Cartrack offers a range of services that can help in a hijacking situation. Here are some ways:
With an above 90% stolen vehicle recovery rating and effective safety features, our expert solutions and reliable services are internationally trusted by over 1,8 million subscribers. Our team is dedicated to protecting your loved ones and your vehicle.
Contact Cartrack Namibia today to discover how you can give your vehicle the top-tier protection it deserves.