According to Statistics South Africa’s recent Victims of Crime (VOC) survey, more than 42 000 vehicles were stolen or hijacked from April 2016 – March 2017.

And while that is a slight decline from previous years, car theft or hijackings are, of course, still rampant in South Africa.

Understandably, people are usually shocked and traumatised after being a victim of a hijacking, and motorists don’t know what the procedure is should their stolen vehicle be located and retrieved by the police. Law For All has put together a guide to help you through the process.

I have just been hijacked- what do I do now?

1 If there were other people in the vehicle with you, check if anyone has been hurt or needs medical attention.

2 Report the hijacking to the police and get a case number (this will also help for your insurance claim, assuming you are covered). If the vehicle isn’t yours, get the owner to do the above immediately.

3 Activate your vehicle’s tracking device, if one has been fitted.

4 Your insurance company will send someone to interview you (or the owner) to get more details on what happened, so try and remember as much as you can about the incident.

5 As mentioned, this can be a very traumatic experience so it might be helpful to seek some sort of counselling to help you deal with the aftermath.

If the SAPS find your vehicle, it’s important to remember that the process doesn’t just end there.  The is a specific procedure that needs to be followed for a successful reinstatement of the stolen vehicle and insurance claims.

According to Law For All’s managing director, Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal, if the hijackers are caught you may have to identify them and, if the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decides to prosecute, be a witness in court.

Nagtegaal says: “This won’t cost a cent, as the Prosecutor is there to assist. Of course, victims can get legal advice from their own lawyer as well, but the lawyer won’t institute legal proceedings”.

What do I do after my vehicle has been recovered?

1 The investigating officer in charge of the case will inform you if your car has been retrieved and you will have to go and identify it at the impound facility.

2 Once you have positively identified the vehicle, you will have to inform your insurance provider that the car has been found.

3 After the investigation has been finalised, the insurer will organise for the car to be taken to the garage/panel beater to get a quote.

4 The insurance assessor will compile a report once the repairs quote has been issued.

5 Once all the damage to the vehicle has been fixed, you will have to take the vehicle to get police clearance.

6 You will have to obtain a printed Request for Police Clearance from a Motor Vehicle Registration office to verify the car’s record.

7 The vehicle will officially be deregistered at the license department.

Tips for avoiding a hijacking

1 About 1-2kms from your house, be extra vigilant; turn off the radio and take in your surroundings.

2 As you get closer to your driveway, double check if there are any loiterers or suspicious vehicles hanging around the street.

3 If you suspect that you have been followed as you approach your driveway, do not turn into your house- wait and see if they stop following you or alert the authorities.

4 If your pets do not greet you in your driveway, consider this a warning sign. The perpetrators may have entered your premises and overpowered the animals.

5 Call someone who is likely to be at your house and ask them to double check if the driveway is safe and if they can meet you in the driveway.

6 Be extra vigilant in parking lots when leaving the office

7 Lastly, it always better to be safe than sorry, so take the extra time to be vigilant and extremely cautious while driving, and make sure that you have vehicle insurance and a tracker in place to help lessen the impact of a hijacking.

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