Sunday, 30 July 2006

This is hijacking, SA-style

The average hijacker gets away with more than a hundred violent crimes before he is caught. His ill-gotten gains are not enough to make him stop, and after serving time in prison he will hijack again.

This profile is drawn from the findings of unreleased research. Rudolph Zinn, of Technikon South Africa, a lecturer in forensic investigations, spent three years doing in-depth interviews and collating the information for his master's dissertation. Democratic Alliance safety and security spokesperson Douglas Gibson said on Monday that he intended bringing the contents of the Zinn report to the attention of Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula.

'They have no problems with witnesses and a total disregard for the police'

However, despite having commented on Zinn's findings, Gibson said he had not read the report himself, and was hoping to have a copy soon. Zinn, who was unaware of the DA's intentions to forward his research to the government, said he intended passing it on to the police so that it could be used for intelligence-driven investigations.

He said he had drawn the information from hijackers themselves, interviewing inmates who had no apparent reason not to disclose information. "I started out by going to prisons in Gauteng. I wanted to interview convicted hijackers and asked for volunteers. I ended up interviewing a sample of 30," Zinn said, adding that the majority had served between nine and 18 months of their sentences. "If you try to talk to them before they have served nine months, they are focused on an appeal.

After that they are desperate and will do anything to co-operate. But after 18 months they have seen too many impimpis (informers) 'taken out' in prison and they also aren't interested in talking," said Zinn. 'They know nobody will try to stop them and they believe they will get away with it'

According to the research, most hijackers belong to syndicates and target specific cars to fill standing orders. "They will wait at a traffic light during peak hour. They have no problems with witnesses and a total disregard for the police. They know nobody will try to stop them and they believe they will get away with it," Zinn said.

A typical tactic used by hijackers is to force the driver to get out of the car at gunpoint - 98 percent of the perpetrators are armed. "They say they like to use a pistol because of the sound it makes when you cock it. It terrifies the victim, especially at night," Zinn said. "They want their victims to quietly submit and plead for their lives.

They shoot if the victim doesn't follow their instructions immediately. The moment they can't see the victim's hand, they will shoot rather than take the risk that the person is going for a gun." A small percentage of hijackers would shoot the driver no matter what the circumstances.

"They prefer to shoot the victim outside the car so that they don't have to clean it later," added Zinn. "They wear no gloves or balaclavas and make no attempt to disguise themselves.

They get rid of the cars fast. Within five hours the vehicle is 'dumped', which is the term they use. Within eight hours the car has been reassembled or fitted with new seats or parts so that it cannot be identified." Zinn said his 540-page report would be made available to the police, insurance companies and other interested organisations such as tracking companies.

Take a look inside his head. This is how a motorist should respond to avoid falling prey to hijackers. These guidelines are derived from the interviewees' comments and advice. Always be observant and take notice of people who stand near your car. If they are hijackers, they will rather look for another target because they know that you are on guard and can drive off or take out a firearm.

Take note of any young people sitting or standing on the pavement near your home because young hijackers sometimes pretend they are only sitting, eating or playing soccer. If you suspect anything, you must trust your instincts and drive on past your home while keeping watch on their reactions.

When arriving home, make sure there are no unknown people in the vicinity before opening the garage door or gate. When approaching your parked vehicle in a parking lot, take note of any suspicious-looking people loitering nearby and walk past if anything appears to be out of the ordinary. Some hijackers try to give the target vehicle a light bump from the rear.

As soon as the victim gets out to inspect the damage, he or she is held up at gunpoint. Before a driver stops at an intersection, he or she must take note of people standing around at traffic lights or stop streets or pretending to be selling something. Take note of people at all points of the intersection. The driver must show them they have been seen. They will probably rather go and look for another target because they know the driver is on guard.

Some hijackers dress as beggars with a noticeboard around their necks advertising that they need money or work. As soon as you open the window to give money, you could be hijacked. Therefore, keep the vehicle in first gear and be prepared to make a quick getaway.

Drivers should avoid areas with high levels of crime and should be safety conscious in all their actions and in the planning of their routes and parking spots. Drivers shouldn't give lifts to people they don't know. Truck drivers in particular are led into ambushes by prostitutes who get them to stop at deserted spots where the hijackers arranged to wait for them.

Drivers who pull off the road to speak on their cellphones are at risk. The majority of the hijackers (83 percent) were generally in agreement that anti-hijacking systems, immobilisers, alarms and other electronic equipment did not serve as deterrents when it came to the selection of a target vehicle. They said that if these systems were, for example, advertised on the windows of the vehicle by means of stickers, it would lead to the driver being taken hostage along with the vehicle.

The reason being that if the vehicle cuts out along the way as a result of the installed system, the driver can be forced to deactivate it.-The Star

Source: South Africa The Truth

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