Take precautions to protect your family and your property
A sustained increase of almost 15% in car hijackings over the last two years and an increase in both residential and business robberies reflected in the recently released national crime statistics are a cause for concern. To address this and help promote preventative safety action on the part of consumers, the South African Insurance Association (SAIA) has responded with safety tips.
Here’s what you can do to increase your safety both at home and in your car:
- Most hijackings occur close to home so be especially vigilant when pulling out of your driveway or coming home.
- If you have an electric gate, pulling into the driveway before you open the gate can allow hijackers to box you in. Rather open your gate while your car is still in the road.
- If you suspect you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station and alert the police and a friend who can meet you outside the station.
- Always make sure you can see the back wheels of the car in front of you when you stop in the traffic. This gives you enough room to manoeuvre and escape if you have to.
- Don’t fall for the “tap tap” trap where a driver taps the back of your car in traffic. They often use female drivers as decoys here. Never get out of your car on the scene to assess the damage but rather drive to a busy location. Signal to the other driver to follow you. If it is not legitimate they will seldom follow you.
- Stay calm, so that you are better able to observe details that will be important when you are reporting an armed robbery.
- Let the robbers know you intend to cooperate; this will keep them calm as well. The last thing you want is a panicked robber.
- Try to follow their orders precisely and calmly. If you must move or reach for something, inform the robber first so they are not taken by surprise.
- Hit the alarm when it is safe to do so. If you can, call security even if you have activated the alarm.
- Never assume that a gun is not real, not loaded or that a young and innocent looking robber will not shoot you.
- Do not offer or volunteer more than is demanded.
- Call the police as soon as you can and secure the scene to preserve any evidence. Lock the doors, keep people away from the areas that the robbers were in, and secure any and all evidence that may have been left behind by the suspects. Also don’t touch anything the robber has touched. These measures are extremely important for the forensic investigation.
- Immediately write down information about the incident and robbers specifically. Write down exactly what you saw and have anyone who had seen the event do the same. Ask witnesses to stay with you until the police have arrived.