Hijacking are becoming more common across South Africa, and criminals are constantly evolving and changing their methods. The South African Police Service (SAPS) has warned of a new tactic hijackers are making use of to steal cars that specifically puts car sellers in danger.
The warning was issued after second-hand motor dealerships and private sellers reported being approached by prospective clients who request to test drive a particular vehicle. While they are driving the car, they escape the supervision of the car-selling representative and essentially hijack the car.
As reported by BusinessTech, SAPS said that in one of the incidents, suspects posed as potential buyers and requested to test drive a bakkie. They were accompanied by the vehicle sales person and while driving, stopped on a deserted road. Here, they pointed a gun at him and instructed that he jump out of the bakkie before driving off.
The affected dealership has no information available on the alleged clients.
“Dealerships are requested to ensure they have a signed indemnity form completed by the prospective client, that includes a copy of their identification document/motor vehicle licence/ thumb-print, before granting a test drive,” SAPS said in a statement. “Police in the province would also like to urge members of the community to be careful when they respond to online advertisements especially for livestock and vehicle sales.”
Another incident reports that a potential client saw an advertisement for a Toyota Avanza on Facebook. He made an arrangement to meet him, and assured the buyer that he would pay cash but first had to test-drive the vehicle. They met on the agreed-upon day, but the seller was accompanied by three friends.
The seller and his friends were then surrounded by an armed group of 14, and were robbed of cash and personal items. The group of 14 was brought together by the potential buyer.
“The public is once more warned to exercise caution when responding to online advertisements and to avoid becoming victims,” SAPS added.
The SAPS issued the following crime prevention tips:
- Don’t meet strangers at your home or in strictly residential areas. Instead, meet in a nearby shopping area, a grocery store, fast-food restaurant parking lot or at the Police Station. Make sure the area is busy and filled with lots of people.
- It’s a good idea to bring a friend, or even two. Let other friends or family know of your plans. Have them check on you at a specific time after the meeting if you don’t call them first.
- Be sure to have your cellphone with you.
- If you are selling/buying something and become suspicious of the buyer/seller for any reason, don’t let them in your car but leave immediately.
- Do not carry a large amount of cash with you, and leave immediately if the advertised product is not at the agreed place.
- If you are robbed, give the suspects the property they demand; your life is more valuable than your property.