New Hijacking Trend Finds Its Way to Drive-Thru Establishments

Recently a hijacking trend has emerged where criminals will target motorists while purchasing their food at drive-through establishments. This article will unpack this hijacking trend and offer strategies to ensure you do not become a victim.

Drive-thrus are meant to be all about fast food convenience to customers as they will be ordering and paying for their food in the comfort of their cars. This experience of ordering food at a drive-through establishment has now become dangerous for some unsuspecting patrons and motorists as criminals could target them.

Hijacking is defined as taking over the control of something illegally and using force. According to the crime statistics released by South African Police Services, year-on-year hijackings for 2022 have increased by 14% in the latest quarter. The increase in such crimes can be due higher unemployment rate and poverty. Cars are the most hijacked by criminals.

In the statistics provided by a vehicle tracking company, most vehicle hijackings occur between 4 pm and 8 pm, with Tuesday and Thursday being the riskiest days.

This being said, criminals have found a hijacking opportunity at fast-food drive-through establishments throughout the country.   Most people tend not to pay enough attention to their surroundings or notice any suspicious activity, especially in well-lit public spaces with many people.

These criminals are getting smarter, faster and more creative in their daily operations. People should always be vigilant when going to drive-thrus at night time, especially those that are isolated and less busy.


How Is One Hijacked at The Drive-Thru?

In most instances, the hijackers would have you sandwiched between two vehicles, one in front of you and one at the back. That is when the criminals would pounce on you. If you try reversing, the car behind you blocks your way, making it nearly impossible to make a safe escape.


Tips On How to Avoid Being Hijacked at A Drive-Thru

With the festive drawing nearer, these hijackings will continue increasing. The following tips can help members of the public from falling victim to hijacking at Drive-Thrus;

  • When making cash and card payments, you should always have your card or cash on hand to make payments as quickly as possible. If you have a bag, it must be stored in the car’s boot.
  • It is recommended that you order when the drive-thru is busy, as the chances of being hijacked are slimmer. The main reason you should order when it is busy is that it is difficult for criminals to commit hijackings when there are many people, as the risk of being caught is very high compared to when it is less busy. Therefore, make it a priority to order during peak hours or at a drive-thru that appears to be busy.
  • Remember always to keep all windows and doors closed and check your rearview. This allows you to see the activity happening around you while you are at the drive-through whilst you are waiting for your order. Staying vigilant is essential, and one has to avoid being distracted by playing music or being on your cell phone.
  • If you are about to become a hijacking victim, you must press your hooter several times to alert others of what is happening to you. By doing so, the hijackers would flee as they do not want to draw attention to themselves. If you have a panic button on your tracking device, this will be better for your safety as the tactical response team will be alerted, and you can get the help you need.


What to Do When You Fall Victim to Hijacking at A Drive-Thru

  • Avoid direct eye contact with hijackers and show them that you are not threatening them. Get out of your car slowly while remaining calm.
  • Always use your left arm to release your seatbelt, put the car on neutral and do not turn off the engine.
  • When travelling with children, ensure the eldest child is seated behind the driver and the youngest to the left. This is because if you happen to get hijacked and you are the driver, you can slowly get out of the car and move to the back of your seat to get your eldest child, who would probably cling to you for safety. You can then lean across to take the youngest child and escape with your kids. While doing this, you should maintain calmness to avoid worsening the situation. It is, however, recommended to leave children at home whenever possible.


No one ever wants to become the victim of hijacking; however, there are some measures you can follow to ensure that you remain while driving. By following the tips offered, you can ensure you become safer. Remember to stay vigilant at all times and trust your gut.



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