Police warn of hijacking trend

Police have warned residents of a new hijacking trend after an elderly couple was attacked at their home in Monument Park on Thursday.

ADT security said the woman and her husband were attacked by four men in a chocolate brown Audi A3, previously seen at the couple’s gate this week.

ADT Pretoria district manager Leon Muller said: “We suspect the couple had been followed home from the shops.”

Muller said fortunately ADT had a patrol vehicle dedicated to the area and a reaction officer who witnessed the attack was immediately able to assist the couple and call for medical assistance.

Netcare 911 arrived on the scene and spokesperson Athlenda Mathe said the couple sustained moderate injuries and were stabilised before they were taken to hospital.

The attackers are still at large but ADT is working closely with the police on a lead, said Muller.

Lyttelton police spokesperson Captain Dave Miller said: “We have noticed a trend as criminals driving luxury cars seem to be following motorists home, only to attack them as they park awaiting their gates to open.”

“We [police] urge members of the public to be cautious at all times when driving home. If you feel you are being followed, rather circle your block to ensure you’re not being followed.”

He said since over 60 percent of hijackings took place close to home, knowing what to look out for and how to prevent falling victim to hijackers was very important, particularly approaching the festive season.

“Being aware of your surroundings and knowing how to respond if you find yourself in a hijacking is critical,” said Muller.

He said ADT had partnered with the National Hijack Prevention Academy and offered motorists the following safety tips:

  • Be particularly vigilant when you leave a shopping centre. Hijackers could have spotters working in the centre to alert them of any big purchases or cash withdrawals.
  • If you suspect you are being followed, indicate to turn then slow down at least two to three houses prior to your home. This will force the motorist behind you to overtake and this could cause criminals to lose interest.
  • If you need to stop in your driveway to manually open the gate, always leave the key in the ignition and the motor running unless you have a child in the car. Only then should you take the key with you as you open the gate. The key is a valuable negotiating tool – they want your car and you want your child.
  • Always make sure you can see the back wheels of the car in front of you when you stop in traffic. This gives you enough room to manoeuvre should you be boxed in.
  • Don’t fall for the “tap tap” trap in which a driver slightly bumps the back of your car in traffic. Hijackers often use lady drivers as decoys here. Don’t get out of your car to assess the damage but rather signal to the other driver to follow you then drive to a busy location. If this is a scam, they will seldom follow you.
  • If you stay in a secure complex with security guards, do not be fooled into thinking you are safe. You can easily be followed into your complex so always remain vigilant. Research shows most people relax the closer they get to home and this is often when they are most vulnerable.

Muller said it was vital to know how to hand your car over in a non-threatening manner during a hijacking.

“The golden rule is to not antagonise the hijackers. You need to show them you are not a threat. Lift up your arms to show you have no weapon and will surrender. Use your left arm to undo your seat belt and put your car in neutral,” he said.

“Leave the motor running and get out slowly. Try and angle your body sideways so you are not facing a firearm head-on. Avoid eye contact with the hijackers but try to take in as much information you can use to identity them. Most importantly try to remain calm.”