These measures are designed to prevent you from becoming a victim of a hijacking. They are guidelines which must be looked at in the context of your environment.

First and foremost is ensuring you use the model of awareness to identify the threats in the environment around you and take the appropriate steps to take action.

To ensure you are holistically protected from hijacking you need to look at your home security measures as well. Aesthetics and security do not always go well together but which is preferable?


Preperation and Planning


In everyday life people have to plan and prepare for the majority of tasks they may perform whether it is a meeting at work or cooking a meal. These tasks require planning and preparation so why not take the same attitude towards your personal safety?

To prevent a hijacking it is important to plan and prepare yourself for going from a safe environment to less safe environment. You need to minimise any distraction whilst driving in order to ensure you maintain your awareness where it is needed the most: on the environment around you.

There is a saying in the personal protection environment which is known as the 6 P’s:

Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Poor Performance

In the context of personal safety poor performance can mean the difference between life and death.




  1. Prepare yourself mentally always be at the minimum level of GREEN.

  2. Ensure that you have checked that you have everything you will need at your destination. If necessary compile a list and check everything off prior to leaving your house or office.

  3. Place all valuable items out of sight preferably in the boot of your car. A smash and grab incident can be traumatic so don’t give a criminal a reason to attack you even for a handbag.

  4. Ensure you have done your hair and make up to your satisfaction.

  5. Ensure your radio is tuned to the station you wish to listen to.

  6. Do not use your cell phone to send sms’s when stopped, use a hands free device to receive calls.

  7. These last three points will change the focus of your awareness from your external environment to your internal environment. This means that your awareness of the area where the threat is, is non-existent! This is why most people get hijacked and think the hijacker came out of nowhere!

  8. You can send your domestic worker to check if the street is clear for you to exit your house. The domestic worker must do this without endangering themselves; hijackers are after vehicles not people. A domestic worker can provide you with valuable intelligence as they are normally aware of the goings on in your area and they will possibly be able to identify any strange vehicles or persons in the vicinity of your residence.


Plan Your Route


  1. Avoid High Risk areas; these are readily available on a Google SA search so check to see if there are any on the regular routes you use.

  2. Choose a route with minimal stops. You have to be stationary to be hijacked.

  3. Check your map to learn where various police stations are located as these are a place of comparative safety. Alternatively use a filling station as most have cameras which will record any suspicious or negative event.

  4. Consider a longer but safer route, using a route which can take 10 minutes longer but has fewer stops and less hijacking hotspots diminishes your risk.


Anti Surveillance


Anti Surveillance is the means to detect if you are being followed, one always hears the advice “If you suspect you are being followed” which under current traffic conditions is difficult to ascertain. Anti surveillance drills are designed to determine definitively that you are being followed and they are very easy to conduct.

By following the methods below you will be able to determine if you are being followed and by using your levels of awareness you maintain control. Always remember if there is doubt rather do something and be proactive as opposed to adopting a “wait and see” attitude and end up being reactive.

Let us look at how our levels of awareness combine with our anti surveillance drill:

GREEN – Aware of your environment

AMBER – You suspect you are being followed

RED – Conduct your anti surveillance drill

We will now look at the different drills for differing environments:


On the Highway

Remember: Always use the left hand lane, it is a safer lane to be in as there is less traffic and you are going to become a slow moving traffic hazard. It also allows easier access to the hard shoulder which is to be used as an escape lane.

  1. Decelerate

    Slow down to 60km/h (the reason why you need to be in the inside lane) and see if the suspicious vehicle slows down with you.

  2. Accelerate

    Speed up and see if the suspicious vehicle speeds up with you.

    By slowing down then speeding up (safely) establishes a driving pattern which is not normal driving habits therefore any vehicle that mimics this behaviour is highly suspicious. It does not, however, confirm they are following you it is just highly suspicious.

  3. Exit

    Exit at an off ramp and go straight over back on to the highway. If the suspicious vehicle has slowed down and sped up with you then follows you back onto the highway they are following you. You must be highly aware at the top of the off ramp as you may be required to stop so identify an escape lane because the hijackers may use this opportunity to conduct the hijacking.


In Town


  1. In a suburb you must go around four consecutive left hand or right hand corners. You are effectively going around in a circle. Going on a zigzag route does not indicate that you are being followed.

  2. On a dual carriageway do 2 consecutive U-turns around the centre reservation effectively again you are going around in a circle.

People when they are lost do not tend to go around in a circle, if you have doubts then perform more than one anti surveillance drill. This is especially relevant at night when you cannot identify a vehicle behind you. If you are suspicious of a vehicle at night when you have to stop try and use your brake and fog lights to illuminate the suspicious vehicle as much as possible so you can attempt to observe as much detail about the vehicle and its occupants.



Risk Assessment


Risk is our exposure to a threat, the threat of being hijacked so we need to determine how vulnerable we are to the threat of hijacking. Before we look at what constitutes vulnerability, we first look at some reasons for hijacking and why it is a universal risk.


Reasons For Hijacking


There are a number of reasons why hijackings occur and by whom they are conducted, some of the main reasons hijackings occur are:

  1. To take the vehicle out of the country

    Certain vehicles are in demand in some of our neighbouring countries where these vehicles are not readily available.

  2. To fulfil a specific order

    Certain make, model, colour and engine type required will dictate the target of a hijacking in these instances.

  3. For spare parts

    Due to the high volume of vehicle crashes and high part prices there is a black market for spares. Vehicles are hijacked and taken to chop shops for dispersal into this black spares market.

  4. Gang Initiation

    Some gang initiations include the committing of a crime and hijacking is an easy crime to commit in these instances a hijacking can occur as a show of bravado by gang members.

  5. For transport

    A person could require getting from point A to point B, having a firearm and you happen to be the unfortunate person who happens along and is hijacked.

The last two types are the ones that can affect anyone at anytime your only defence is your awareness and pro-activeness.


What Makes You Vulnerable


  1. Lack of awareness

    This is the primary reason why people become victims as they are not paying attention to their environment. The “they came out of nowhere” claim is indicative of a lack of awareness.

  2. The type of vehicle you drive.

    Vehicle makes that are common on the roads, double cabs and certain yuppie vehicles constitute the highest risk (see Vehicle Risk for more information).

  3. The area you live in.

    By checking SAPS statistics and monitoring local press you can get an idea of the risk in your area.

  4. The area you are travelling to.

    By checking SAPS statistics you can determine whether the area you are travelling to is higher risk.

  5. Any known high risk areas en route.

    By checking SAPS statistics of all areas on the route you travel you can determine the risk in conjunction with searching Google SA for hijacking hotspots.

  6. Any previous hijacking or attempted hijacking.

    If you have been hijacked or an attempt has been made, you have goods that the hijackers want and if it happened at home they know where they can find you.

  7. Actual route you are taking.

    By utilising a route with more stops that increases your risk as you have to be stopped to be hijacked.

  8. Not using your common sense.

    By doing things such as leaving your windows wide open, not locking your doors which are all common sense things that some people still forget to do which puts them at risk. Be wary of small bumper bashings designed to lure you out of your vehicle, if this occurs and you are not happy with the situation then proceed to the nearest police station showing the other person to follow you. Do not pick up hitch hikers or stop to help someone on the roadside you do not know.

  9. Research identifies the following vulnerable areas with the associated risk:

Vulnerable Area Risk
At traffic lights 7%
At a stop street or yield sign 6%
At other intersections 1%
In front of private residences 51%
At business premises 5%
At shops, post offices, telephone booths, etc 3%
At filling stations 1%
Victims sitting in parked cars 10%
Victims forced off road by decoys 4%
Victims parking: i.e. Either starting cars or leaving/approaching parked cars 2%
Victim stationery and working at the roadside, i.e. repairing telephone cables 2%
While loading and offloading goods 2%
By hitch-hikers 1%
While taxis are loading/offloading passengers 4%
Unknown 1%

Take the following risk equation:

Risk = Threat x Vulnerability

The only variable over which you have control is VULNERABILITY!
In every environment there are potential threats so you are always potentially at risk. By minimising your vulnerability to any threats you will reduce your risk.





Arriving and Departing Procedures


Arriving and departing from home or a friend’s house is a critical time. Research shows this is where the majority of hijackings occur. Research also indicates that you are more vulnerable on a Friday evening; this is possibly due to the fact that most people will be more relaxed as it is the end of the week so they switch off. Switching off drops your awareness, do not relax until you are in a secure environment.

During this process you are extremely vulnerable to an attack; it is advisable to have some form of personal defence weapon (see personal defence weapons section) to use in these instances.




When arriving the procedure depends on whether you live in a house or a complex and whether you have manual or automatic gates. The following two points are universal:

  1. Be more alert to being followed +/- 1km from your home.
  2. Conduct an Anti Surveillance drill.


Arriving at a House with Automated Gates


Pull up in the road in front of your house just past your driveway, observing the environment for any stationary vehicles with people in it or any people loitering around that you are not familiar with. Remember if you are not happy about anything leave!

From the road side open your gate and reverse your car into your property stopping just inside your gate. Close the gate after having selected first gear. In the event of someone attempting to get access to your premises you can drive out of your premises. It is easier to drive out of a situation than reverse out of a situation.

Once the gate is fully closed then reverse the rest of the way down your drive and reverse into your garage as well. If you have a rear exit out of your garage then follow the same procedure as the gate until the garage door is closed.


Arriving at a House without Automated Gates


Stop in the road and reverse into the driveway. Stop your car, do not switch it off, then get out to open your gates. By not switching the car off any hijacker will take the car and hopefully leave you alone. Do not put yourself in danger for your car, it can be replaced you cannot.

Maintain constant observation of your environment whilst opening the gates, return to your car and reverse as far into your property as you can, if at any point someone comes into your property engage first gear and drive out. Once you have parked your car return to close the gate.


Arriving at a Complex


With a complex you firstly need to ascertain the range of the remote, organise with the body corporate to install one with the greatest range.

On approach to your complex slow down and open the gate, driving in when the gate is open wide enough to fit your car through and stop just inside of the gate. The beams on the gate should be programmed to stop the gate and not to re-open the gate which is most common and very dangerous.

Once the gate is fully closed then you can drive further into the complex. In the event of a car attempting to come in behind you stay in position as they cannot enter with you blocking their way and once the gate is closed sufficiently drive off. If they attempt to come in on foot drive into the complex hooting and raise the alarm.

Having the beams programmed correctly will prevent anyone from cutting the beams to re-open the gate whether they are in a car or on foot. This is an extremely important point for complexes as so many residents leave the entire complex vulnerable by not waiting for the gate to close and by not having correctly programmed beams.




  1. Visually check your surrounding area, make sure it is safe to exit but do this from a place of safety.

  2. Ensure your preparation and planning is completed as you do not want any distractions to maintaining your level of awareness whilst you are out and about.

  3. Drive out of your premises if someone tries to block you in you can either drive around them or use your vehicle as a weapon.


Just Visiting


Whenever you visit a person either at a house or in a complex always identify any threats using your model of awareness prior to pulling into the entrance or driveway. Whilst waiting for a gate to open to allow access you are stationary therefore vulnerable, it is imperative to maintain 360 degrees observation and use your model of awareness to maintain your safety if you don’t like something then leave and come back later.


Prevention Is Better Than A Cure


The only way to guarantee you and your family’s safety in a hijacking is not to get into one. This can be easier said than done but with the lottery that goes with a hijacking regarding your personal safety it is worth trying to prevent it at all times.

You have to be able to remain proactive, this is what the model of awareness and its implementation is designed to do. The escalation through the levels can be very rapid and you must be decisive. There are many modus operandi that can be used by a hijacker from pretending to be a buyer for your car to masquerading as a street trader. Hijackers do not normally work alone so maintaining constant awareness of your entire environment is critical.

The diagram below illustrates this constant process:


Types Of Attacks


Even though there are numerous modus operandi used by hijackers there are two basic types of attack. The term attack is used because any hijacking is a violent event even if you do not get physically harmed it will impact on you psychologically. The two types of attack are:




You have stopped when you are attacked; this is the most common form of attack. This is the easier option for hijackers as they wait to attack at places where you are required to stop such as intersections, highway off ramps and your home.




You are forced to stop by another vehicle, this is type of attack is rare as there is a chance that the vehicle may be damaged which is not preferable for the hijackers. This type of attack requires forcing you off the road and the best action to take is to brake hard, identify and utilise an escape route or stop and move far away from the vehicle.


Actions On


Actions on are the steps required to prevent yourself from being hijacked by any type of attack. These guidelines have to be used in the context of the environment but are designed for when you are out and about as we have already covered the home aspect in our arriving and departing procedures.




  • Ensure wherever possible you have an escape lane.

    An escape lane can be a hard shoulder, a grass verge, the central reservation on a dual carriageway. You only leave a gap between yourself and the vehicle in front of you when you have an escape lane the diagrams below illustrate the reasons. In the first diagram the grass verge acts as your escape lane in the second diagram there is no escape lane available so it is pointless leaving a gap:


    Escape Lane



    No Escape Lane


  • Observe as much as possible prior to stopping, identify all possible threats.

    Prior to stopping you must attempt to identify all potential threats so you are looking for reasons to escalate your level of awareness, by doing this you are remaining proactive and thereby remaining in control.

  • If you do not have an escape lane get close to the vehicle in front of you.

    The reason for this is to get attention. If you proceed to get really close to the vehicle in front of you then you will inevitably get the driver’s attention which is normally accompanied by the flash of a non complimentary look in the rear view mirror.

  • If you suspect someone watch them carefully and remember OOHLA:

  • If you are not happy with the situation cause a disturbance.

  • When you do not have an escape lane available to you then cause a disturbance. Let others know. This is achieved by revving your engine and constantly hooting your horn. You will now have everyone’s attention and the hijackers can be deterred by this as they are looking for unaware people.
  • Should the suspect produce a firearm then get out of your car and let them take your car, avoid confrontation and eye contact.

Should the hijackers not be after your car then you may look foolish however rather that than end up being in a situation which can lead to your death, kidnapping or rape.

Any hijacking can occur in a matter of seconds which is why it is imperative to maintain a high level of observation and awareness, proceed through the levels of awareness making a decisive action to avoid getting hijacked or avoid being hurt and traumatised by a smash and grab or hijacking.

Using SIMPLE with your levels of awareness and the appropriate process will enable you to maintain your personal safety from Hijacking