Tips on how to protect yourself & child during a hijacking

A Hijacking is a terrible ordeal and can leave you frozen with fear. Ruthless criminals threaten your life and the lives of your loved ones which can leave you feeling violated and out of control. While the circumstances of each ordeal may differ, we outline some general tips how how to best survive this horror. While you may want to hold onto your prized possessions, experts advise that you let them go as your life is far more important than any possession.

Richard Brussow from the National Hijack Prevention Academy gives some tips on what to do in this situation. “Statistics indicate that children are seldom taken in hijackings – in fact, it only happens in six out of 24 000 cases. Criminals know that when children are involved, their crime escalates to a priority crime which will attract a lot of attention; the last thing criminals want is a lot of attention,” says Brussow.

What to do during a Hijacking:

  1. If you have a small child in the vehicle and you are travelling without a passenger, ensure that your child is directly behind you. If you have to leave the vehicle quickly this will save you time in getting your little one out.
  2. If you are travelling with one children, if possible teach the eldest how to independently remove their seatbelt. Explain that this is only for emergencies and not for everyday.
  3. If your children are old enough, disable the “kiddie-lock” or child-lock system so that they can easily exit the vehicle.
  4. If you have a central locking system, open all the doors before you exit the vehicle, only then hand the keys to the hijacker.While the hijacker is getting into the drivers seat you can then quickly get your children out.
  5. Don’t keep the key for a key-less car system inside a pocket or handbag as the hijacker may think that you are pulling a weapon on them. Rather keep the key in the arm-rest or somewhere close by. Your key is your bargaining tool that can buy you some time to get your children out while the hijacker gets in and starts the vehicle.
  6. While out the vehicle, turn your body sideways so that you protect your vital organs should the hijacker fire at you. This also allows you to focus on your children and help them get out of the vehicle.
  7. Follow any instruction from the hijacker and try and keep as calm as possible. Don’t interact with them more than you have to as this can make them very nervous. If you are going to make any movements make them aware of such.


The most important thing for women travelling with children to remember is that the eldest child should always be seated behind the driver and the younger child to the left. Humphrey explains:

“If you are hijacked while your children are in the car, climb out of the vehicle slowly and move to the back door directly behind the driver’s door. Place one foot firmly in the car, on the floor behind the driver’s seat, as you lean across to retrieve the youngest child. The eldest child will probably cling to you and you can get both children out of the car at once. Remember to stay as calm as possible. If the hijackers panic and the vehicle starts moving before you have your children out of the car, your firm footing in the vehicle will throw your body weight into the car with your children, as opposed to you being left behind and the hijackers speeding off with your children.”

Here are more helpful hijack prevention tips from ADT and the National Hijack Prevention Academy:

  • Remember that 68 per cent of all hijackings occur close to home so be especially vigilant when pulling out of your driveway or coming home.
  • If you have an electric gate, do not pull into your driveway before opening the gate. This can allow hijackers to box you in. Rather open your gate while your car is still in the road to allow a quick getaway if necessary.
  • If you suspect you are being followed, put your indicator on and slow down at least two to three houses prior to your home. By doing this, you force the vehicle behind you to pass and you can then get a better idea of their intentions.
  • If you need to stop in your driveway to manually open the gate, always leave the key in the ignition and the motor running unless you have a child in the car. If your child is in the car, take the key with you as you open the gate. The key is a valuable negotiating tool – the criminals want your car and you want your child.
  • Always make sure you can see the back wheels of the car in front of you when you stop in the traffic. This gives you enough room to manoeuvre and escape if you have to, for whatever reason.
  • Don’t fall for the “tap tap” trap where a driver taps the back of your car in traffic. They often use female drivers as decoys here. Never get out of your car on the scene to assess the damage but rather drive to a busy location. Signal to the other driver to follow you. If it is not legitimate they will seldom follow you.
  • If you stay in a secure complex with security guards, do not be fooled into thinking you are safe.
  • You can easily be followed into your complex so always remain vigilant. Research shows that most people relax the closer they get to home and this is often when they are most vulnerable.

What to do if you are hijacked

  • The first and golden rule: Do not antagonise the hijackers. You need to show them you are not a threat.
  • Lift up your arms to show you have no weapon and will surrender.
  • Use your left arm to undo your seatbelt and put your car in neutral.
  • Be cautious not to use your right arm to lean across your body and undo your seatbelt or unlock the door. This could be construed as you reaching for a gun.
  • Do not turn off your car.
  • Get out slowly and try and angle your body sideways so you are not facing a firearm head-on. Also remember to protect your head with your arms and to lift your shoulders to protect your neck area.
  • Do not turn your back on the hijackers – your organs are most exposed from the back.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with the hijackers but still try to take in what they are wearing, the sound of their voices, etc.


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