This all started with a video that was filmed at a petrol station on the R21 highway. The video shows a vehicle pull up to a petrol pump, two men get out and in a most casual manner approach another vehicle, removing items from the car. Now, on video it appeared relaxed as the people in the car were stunned, as were the petrol attendants. The assailants clearly had weapons too, which made their relaxed attitude towards the situation even more petrifying.
If our criminality has reached a point where pulling out a firearm and stealing things from a car at a busy petrol station in broad daylight has become a menial task, then I fear the worst for us. You’d think that these people would at least look worried about all of the variables at play but clearly not, they simply carried on with their business.
The video has sparked outrage among the people of South Africa as more and more videos surface of hi-jackings and smash-and-grabs in which the perpetrators seem to be developing an increased proficiency for the act.
The increase in these types of acts has, rather ironically, got to do with the fact that our vehicles are becoming more and more impenetrable and therefore, more difficult to steal. So as our cars are parked while we are at work, shopping or at home, criminals are finding them too difficult to steal. Darn modern cars with all their safety and security items, how dare they be so gosh darn difficult to steal!
The solution that our remarkably intelligent criminals have come up with, is to take that problem away and steal the cars while they’re running, with their owners inside. Problem solved and created simultaneously.
In case you’re wondering, as with our copper cable theft issue, there are rich business people who run vehicle smuggling syndicates and encourage this type of crime to get a new influx of “stock.”
So as a syndicate owner you can put the word out that you are looking for a specific vehicle, in a specific colour with a price on its metaphorical head and you can be sure that your desired vehicle will be delivered to you, with or without the poor owner in the boot. Often your stolen vehicle will either be recovered, or it will make it across the border, never to be seen again.
I would never condone the stealing of anything from anyone but in certain circumstances I can at least understand why desperate people who want to feed their families would turn to crime. However, most hijackers are career criminals who have more than they need, much like the men in the R21 video, well dressed, clearly well fed and driving a decent car (which, admittedly, was probably stolen). So here we are dealing with profit-driven professionals as opposed to desperate criminals.
So when are you likely to be hijacked? Research from Arrive Alive shows, the closer we get to Friday the more likely these attacks become, before the weekend where incidents drop dramatically. In terms of the times of the day, as expected, the morning and afternoon rush hours increase your chances of falling victim.
The question is… can we defend ourselves? Of course we can, but as with anything, there are rules. As long as the attack on you was unlawful, imminent, or had commenced but was not completed you have the grounds for self-defence. So in other words, once your car is gone, don’t hunt them down. Ensure that actions are taken against the attacker and are proportionate to the type of attack and value of the stolen goods. Ensure that your actions can be proven to have been committed by a reasonable person.
I urge you to share your hijacking stories with us, vent a bit and please feel free to propose what you feel can be done about this situation.