As crime and unemployment increase during the period leading up to the festive season, hijackings and opportunistic crimes traditionally increase, notes security specialist Fidelity ADT.
This year however there is a new trend emerging, said Fidelity ADT. It has warned of a new modus operandi where motorists are being targeted while buying food at drive-thru establishments.
Head of marketing & communications for Fidelity ADT, Charnel Hattingh said: “We are increasingly starting to see a concerning trend where criminals target unsuspecting patrons at drive-thru establishments. Typically as you get to the front of the queue, armed suspects from the vehicle in front of you get out and attempt to hijack your vehicle.
“There are usually two cars involved, the vehicle behind you, blocks in your car when you try and reverse.”
South Africa’s crime statistics for Q1 2022/2023 showed an increase in hijackings across the country. A total of 5,866 hijackings were reported across the country over the period – a 14% increase from the 5,146 hijackings reported over the same period the previous year – and averages to a car stolen every 22 minutes in the country.
Hijackings were also up quarter-on-quarter, climbing 8.6% from 5,402 cases recorded in Q4 2021/2022. Looking at hijacking trends over the three-month period, there was a sharp jump in May, followed by a decline in June. Crime rates tend to rise towards the end of the year, ahead of the Christmas period.
Motorists need to be vigilant and aware of their surroundings. People tend to relax while queuing, often distracted by the task at hand and excited children, said Hattingh. “Remember as we move closer to the festive season, this type of opportunistic crime will, unfortunately, be on the increase. You need to stay vigilant at all times and don’t take chances unnecessarily.”
Fidelity ADT offers the following safety tips:
• Keep your bag in the boot – have your cash and card on hand for quick payment.
• Only use well-frequented drive-thrus and avoid any retail establishments which are dimly lit or isolated at night.
• Try and only order food at peak times when patronage is at its highest.
• Keep all your windows and doors closed while waiting for your order.
• If possible don’t take the children with you to the drive-thru as they can be distracting.
• Whilst waiting check your rear-view mirrors and do not be distracted by music or /cell phones.
• If you suspect you could be a victim of a hijacking start pressing your hooter a number of times. Generally, hijackers do not like this kind of attention which draws interest.
• If your children are with you, the eldest child should always be seated behind the driver and the younger child to the left – both in the back seat.
• If you are hijacked while your children are in the car, climb out of the vehicle slowly and move to the back door directly behind the driver’s door. Place one foot firmly in the car, on the floor behind the driver’s seat, as you lean across to retrieve the youngest child. The eldest child will probably cling to you and you can get both children out of the car at once. Remember to stay as calm as possible.