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One Durban hijacking reported every day over the past week.

Blue Security has warned motorists to be on high alert following a spike in Durban hijackings, and a new trend of hijackers attempting to abduct drivers in their vehicles.

Blue Security operations director Brian Jackson said the company had received reports of five hijackings and two attempted hijackings across Durban over the past week alone.

“When considered as an average that is at least one hijacking being reported to our company every day, and this excludes any additional incidents that we don’t hear of, which may be reported to other local security firms and directly to the police,” Jackson said. “What has most concerned us about this latest wave of hijackings in the city, is that a trend has emerged in which hijackers are now attempting to abduct motorists in their vehicles.”

Jackson said in at least two of the recent incidents, hijackers had succeeded in abducting their victims, and in a further two cases, suspects had attempted to take motorists with them, but the victims had managed to resist them.

Jackson believes a contributing factor to the recent increase in hijackings could be due to the advancement of technology, where a coded or fob key is needed to operate a vehicle, which makes the crime somewhat easier with jamming devices.

The Stats

Hijacking incidents reported to the firm over the past seven days included the following cases:

• A Springfield motorist was hijacked in his driveway on January 17. Hijackers succeeded in abducting him and eventually dropped him off, beaten but otherwise unharmed, at a shopping centre in Umlazi.
• A Springfield motorist was hijacked when he was ambushed while driving with two other passengers at around on January 14. He was eventually dropped off, unharmed, in the nearby business district.
• A Bluff man was shot and injured outside a property during a hijacking when he went to pick up a relative from her home in Merebank on January 20.
• A motorist was hijacked in Umhlatuzana and managed to get out of the vehicle after hijackers attempted to abduct him on January 20.
• A Glenmore motorist narrowly escaped an abduction at the hands of hijackers who attempted to bundle him into the boot of his vehicle when they ambushed him in his garage on January 15.
• A motorist was hijacked by a gang of six balaclava clad suspects in Morningside while she was fetching her son from a school sports event on January 18.
• A Morningside motorist narrowly escaped being hijacked in his driveway when three suspects jumped over an electric fence and attempted to hold him and his family up on January 18. He drove through the driveway gates and headed to the Berea police station.

You have the car, why take the motorist, too?

Jackson said one of the possible reasons hijackers were attempting to abduct their victims could be because they believed that motorists would have information about their vehicle’s tracking device.

“Hijackers mistakenly assume that motorists must be aware of the location of the tracking device installed by vehicle tracking companies. They take the motorist with them in the hope that they will be able to get the location of the device out of them. The reality is that most motorists should have no idea where the vehicle’s tracking device was installed and will not be able to tell hijackers anything.”

“Another reason hijackers abduct their victims is because they hope to stop at an ATM and use their bank PIN to rob them of cash in their bank accounts. Fortunately, while the abduction ordeal is extremely traumatic for victims, in most cases the suspects do eventually drop off their victims unharmed,” Jackson said.

When is this most likely to happen, and how do you prevent it?

Jackson said most of the hijackings occurred in residential driveways or outside a property between 7pm and 9.30pm when people were arriving home, while one of the incidents occurred in the early hours of the morning and at 7am.

To minimise the risk of a hijacking:

• Motorists should be extremely vigilant when arriving home and avoid turning into a driveway, without first checking for any suspicious activity or vehicles following behind them.
• While you’re waiting for the driveway gate to open, keep your cellphone close and unlocked on an emergency contact’s number, or load our mobile panic app, to allow you to call for help at the tap of a button should you be held up.
• Some of the latest smart phones come with built in emergency features, such as the Samsung Galaxy, which when triggered, automatically sends an emergency message with your location, a picture of the situation, as well as an audio message.
• Don’t fall into a rut on your daily travels routes that make you forget to pay attention. Keep your doors locked, your windows shut and your eyes open.
• If you feel uneasy about a pedestrian or a vehicle parked nearby, or you suspect that you have been followed, rather drive past your property and around the block, before going home. If the vehicle has not moved on, contact your security company for assistance and drive to your nearest police station.

Should the unthinkable happen, Jackson advised motorists to comply with hijackers and to step away from the vehicle with their hands clearly visible to show that they were not planning to pull out a weapon. “If you find yourself in a hijacking situation, comply with the hijackers and ask them as calmly as possible to allow family members and children to first safely get out of the vehicle before they take it.”

There is no surefire way to ensure this will never happen to you, but there are steps you can take to best help minimise the risk.

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