Hijackers in South Africa are using the ‘tap tap’ trap – what you should know

Security firm Fidelity Secure Drive has warned of an increase in hijackings in South Africa over the last year, with criminals using increasingly sophisticated methods such as the ‘tap tap’ trap to target motorists.

Wahl Bartmann, chief executive of the Fidelity Services Group, noted that between April 2021 to May 2022 the provinces of Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal recorded the largest proportions of hijacking incidents, with 231 incidents in Gauteng, followed by KZN with 186 reported incidents of hijackings.

The cities of Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg have the highest number of reported incidents per day compared to any region in the country, he said.

He added that Thursdays and Fridays have shown the highest number of reported hijackings, with the highest number of reported incidents tending to take place between 06h00-09h00 and 18h00-24h00 during peak traffic times and where there is reduced visibility.

The ‘tap tap’ trap 

One of the methods that hijackers are increasingly using to target motorists is the ‘tap tap’ trap. This is where a criminal will deliberately drive into the back of your car in traffic, or ‘taps’ it, with motorists then hijacked when they get out of their car to assess the damage.

Fidelity Secure Drive noted that hijackers often use female drivers as decoys, and advised motorists never to get out of their car on the scene to assess the damage but rather drive to a busy location.

Motorists should signal to the other driver to follow, and if it is not a legitimate accident, they will seldom do so, the group said.

If you suspect you are being followed, put your indicator on and slow down at least two to three houses prior to your home. If you are being followed, you will force the vehicle behind you to pass and this could cause the criminals to lose interest.

The group also advised motorists to always make sure they can see the back wheels of the car in front of them when they stop in the traffic. This should provide adequate room to manoeuvre and escape.

What to do if the worst happens

In the unfortunate event that you are hijacked, how do you give your car over in a non-threatening manner?

“The first and golden rule is to not antagonise the hijackers who are probably more scared than you are.  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;
  • Do not turn off your car;
  • Get out slowly;
  • Try and angle your body sideways so you are not facing a firearm head-on;
  • Remember to protect your head with your arms;
  • Avoid direct eye contact with the hijackers;
  • Try to take in what they are wearing, the sound of their voices, etc.
  • Most importantly try to remain calm.

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