There has been an increase in reported hijackings over the last few months, as indicated in the crime statistics released this year by the police. According to the crime statistics, there has been a steady increase in hijackings occurring at access gates of complexes and estates.
Access Hijacking Trends
Many insurance companies have noted a spike in hijackings at access gates in estates and complexes in South Africa. There was a 20% increase in hijackings which is nearly 30,000 hijackings recorded within a single year. The data cited by the National Hijacking Prevention Academy (NHPA) indicate that hijackers will usually go for spots where vehicles are stationary or moving slowly. However, their ideal areas are those which have easy escape routes.
People tend to stop to key in a PIN at the gate or pause briefly while looking for their remote or an access card when entering estates or complexes. When the gate opens, the hijacker will use this as an opportunity to pounce. The process does not take a lot of time as it only takes a couple of seconds.
The increase in hijackings is also seen as a result of many returning to work due to the easing of lockdown restrictions. As people have started returning to their normal activities, there have been more cars on the road, which has brought more opportunities for hijackers as they can pounce on unsuspecting motorists. In most instances, hijackers will usually follow people who they want to target from shopping malls. The people that hijackers usually look to target are those that wear high valued clothing items or jewellery.
There are measures that you can follow to ensure that you remain safe from hijackings. Firstly, ensure that there is adequate lighting that will illuminate the road and the driveway. Pay attention to observation tools, such as mirrors that enable you to view the road, gate and driveway.
Owners of estates and complexes should invest in swift-moving and sturdy access control gates that close entirely. There should also be a rigid access control system that includes secure codes, intercoms, proper identification, and intercoms that people, vehicles and contractors will also use. Monitoring tools such as multi-angle CCTV systems can be effective for preventing hijackings.
When driving, pay attention to your surroundings at all times. Suppose you detect any suspicious people or behaviour occurring at the access gate when arriving home; it is advised that you prioritise your safety by driving away until you feel it is safe to return.
How to Deal with Hijacked Trauma
If you become a victim of hijacking, this can be overwhelming as most victims of hijackings might struggle to go about their usual activities as the trauma of the hijacking might negatively affect their everyday lives. In most cases, victims of hijackings might experience flashbacks of the hijackings and some trauma symptoms, which include a change in eating and sleeping patterns, chronic tiredness, forgetfulness and reduced concentration. Victims of traumatic experiences such as hijackings might feel angry, suspicious, anxious, sad, tearful, and depressed. Though some people might process the traumatic event healthily, most people might have negative outcomes that might affect their ability to live freely and negatively affect their relationships and mental well-being. The trauma could potentially lead to mental disorders like acute stress disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder.
It is challenging to predict how people will react after the traumatic event as each person will have their coping mechanism, which might be positive or negative. Some might resort to negative coping strategies such as alcohol and, in some instances, drugs to escape from the negative memories, while some people choose positive coping mechanisms such as seeking therapy and taking the time to rebuild their life after the traumatic event.
After experiencing a traumatic event like a hijacking, victims must give themselves time to heal and mourn any loss they have experienced while remembering that recovery might take time, which will require a lot of patience. Victims must not force the healing process and prepare for the complex emotions that will arise during the healing process. Whenever any volatile and difficult emotions occur, victims should allow themselves to experience whatever they feel without any guilt or judgment. During the healing process, uncomfortable feelings might arise. However, victims must learn to reconnect with these emotions without becoming overwhelmed.
With life returning to normal, you should remember the looming danger on the roads as there is a possibility that you might become a victim of a hijacking. When driving, you must pay attention to your surroundings. If you encounter hijackers, prioritise your safety over the vehicle.