Hijacking: Signs that you may be targeted

Hijacking: Signs that you may be targeted

Hijacking is on the increase in South Africa. SA Police reports a total of 4973 incidents between July and September 2021.  

Criminals intentionally intimidate or force drivers from their vehicles and race-off with the vehicles to provide stock for the stolen vehicle market. Or the vehicles are used as getaway vehicles in other crimes. 

Not all drivers escape with their lives. Some are shot or kidnapped and suffer horrific physical harm or murder, while others have seen hijackers driving off with their families still in their vehicles or with their babies strapped in their car seats. 

COBRA Self Defense views car hijacking as one of the most violent crimes.

For those who survive a hijacking, their lives are disrupted by the trauma, to such an extent that they fear doing even simple things like going to work by car or going shopping for groceries. 

If you have fallen victim to a hijacking, please seek professional medical and mental health support.

Sitting targets

If you’re a driver on South African roads, do everything you can to stay alert, no matter how much you want to be distracted by music, the radio or talking on your cell phone. 

Always be hypervigilant while you are on the road!

Expect the worse in car parking lots that aren’t well lit, or some barriers could be potential hiding places. If you have to be in a car park late at night, ensure that you get security to walk with you to your car. Or pay for parking in a secured parking garage if you work in the city. 

Near your home

And then there is your driveway. Check your street for anyone parking on the road near your home if you’re going out. And try to drive out instead of reversing out because so close to home.

Coming home at night, switch off your radio as you turn into your street so that you can focus entirely on checking your road for what shouldn’t be there, like loiterers or parked cars idling with occupants inside.

Experts suggest that you keep driving if these cars are close to your driveway. 

If possible, you should break with routines or habits, like changing your routes or times that you leave for work or arrive home. You can never know if you are a target and your routines are observed.

You should never ignore your gut feeling and instincts that something does not feel right. It may be a car broken down at a stop street or rubble-strewn in the road. 

If you see unusual activity on the road ahead or rocks in the road, reverse and go back the way you came, preferably to the nearest police station to report the matter, but never stop or slow down.    

Preparing is key

On the road, you should:

  • Constantly check your surroundings in your rearview and side mirrors to see if you’re being tailed
  • Drive with your doors locked and windows up
  • When you have to stop in traffic, leave room to move, in case you need to escape
  • Be suspicious of being bumped by males in traffic as it may not be an accident. Drive straight to the police
  • Don’t roll down windows for strangers or take flyers handed out at stop streets or busy intersections. 

At home, according to Atlas Security, you should:

  • If you have a motorised gate, don’t park in your driveway while you wait for it to open. Rather press the remote as you approach the driveway and wait in the street until the gate is open before your turn in. You’ll be able to drive off if approached by a suspicious person or vehicle.
  • Leaving your home, drive out into the road and wait there for the gate to close, in case you need to escape.
  • Your driveway should be an open area, trimmed of any vegetation at the gates or in the pathway to your door, to remove any potential hiding places. 
  • Driveways should be well-lit at night so that you can see if people are lying in wait. 
  • If you have a dog and it doesn’t come running to the driveway when you arrive, that is usually a sign of something being amiss—rather getaway.
  • If you made it through the gate safely, get yourself and your family out of the vehicle and inside quickly.

It would be wise to create safety networks among your neighbours and workmates for those crucial times of getting in and out of vehicles in car parks or driveways. 


The iER app is a free emergency application for any smart device. It gives the user peace of mind by offering a no-cost emergency solution. The App is a panic button for a variety of situations. 

It is a one-click solution available for every situation. 

There is no membership fee. Members can utilise the iER application, although data or a Wi-Fi connection. 


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