Brian Joss – The national crime statistics for the 2019/2020 period were released by Police Minister, Bheki Cele.
He disclosed that car hijacking was up 13.3% while there was an increase in truck hijackings by 1.7%. Between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020, 18 162 motorists were hijacked while 2 384 trucks saw a similar fate.
The managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, urges drivers to take cognisance of these stats. “It is particularly concerning in the COVID-19 environment. Crime is only expected to get worse as the unemployment rate grows. Job losses and few new opportunities may result in people becoming desperate for an alternative source of income that some may take.
“Even being as vigilant as before may fall by the wayside as people focus on sanitising their hands and vehicle when they climb into their cars rather than driving off as soon as possible. For others, a changed way of life as a result of lockdown may result in people becoming careless and complacent.
During the coming months, however, we strongly advise motorists to step up their vigilance.”
Constant vigilance is particularly important as crimes of opportunity may increase. “Those turning to crime as a result of desperation, are not ‘career criminals’ and more likely to seize an opportunity when they see it.
This also creates quite a volatile situation. The hijacker is likely very nervous and may make a rash decision. If you do find yourself in this situation, rather comply and do not make them more nervous.
“If you are in the habit of sanitising your hands as you get in the car, be sure to look around you first and be aware of the current situation. If you feel unsettled, rather sanitise when you arrive home. If you avoid habits such as touching your face, you can safely delay hand sanitising until home.
Don’t, however, skip sanitising the car in this instance because you could have now spread the virus to your steering wheel, seatbelt and gearstick among other spots, if it was on your hands.”
Avoid carelessness and complacency and prioritise awareness and compliance instead. “By doing this you could potentially avoid becoming a victim and if not, protect yourself from harm,” advises Herbert.
CAPTION: Stay alert: protect yourself from harm. Picture: