In recent years, the organised crime of truck hijackings has seen a worrisome increase. Disturbing evolutions in the modus operandi of truck hijackers have been detected, with syndicates using signal jammers, diversion tactics and even planted employees to get to the cargo.
Drivers often aren’t trained to handle a hijacking situation – which criminals are well aware of. According to Hein Jordt, MD of Ctrack Fleet Management Solutions, driver training is essential to combat the scourge of truck hijackings across the country. “Drivers need to be alerted to the risks they face, how they must act when they fall victim to a hijacking, and what they can do to stay alive. They need to know where the biggest hijacking hotspots are and how to detect a potential hijacking scenario,” he says.
The modus operandi of truck hijackers
While the modus operandi in hijackings vary, hijackers still use tried and tested methods. For instance, hijackers still take advantage of truck drivers who stop to procure prostitutes on highways. Signal jamming and illegal use of a blue light to pull over trucks are also still popular methods of hijacking.
The importance of educating your drivers
Proper education can help to prepare the driver for any hijacking situation. The Arrive Alive website lists the following points that drivers should be aware of:
- Consider every unscheduled stop a possible assault, regardless of whether it is a police road block, collision, or a broken vehicle.
- Keep all doors locked – the passenger door is the most common access point for hijackers.
- Do not pick up hitchhikers – not even women.
- Stay in touch with your control room. If you are going to stop, let them know how long, where and what other people or vehicles are present at the location.
- When you are hijacked, do not resist. Very few hijackings these days result in serious injury or fatalities, unless drivers try to fend off the criminals.
Warn your drivers to be extra vigilant when operating in these areas:
- The N3 Durban highway to Johannesburg, especially at the petrol stations between Villiers and Johannesburg.
- The R59 Vereeniging to Johannesburg, especially close to the Engen Blockhouse 1-Stop.
- Off-ramps on the N12 Witbank highway.
- The R21/R25 towards Bronkhorstspruit, especially around Bapsfontein in the early morning.
- The N3 highway near De Hoek plaza.
Using jamming detection against hijackings
As signal jamming has the ability to prevent a telematics unit from broadcasting its position to the service provider, it is being increasingly used by hijackers. “They use a range of jamming systems to block tracking devices from communicating via the cellular networks or via satellite. Once jammed, they typically hijack the vehicle or work with the driver to move it to a location where they offload its cargo,” says Jordt.
Ctrack offers a combined fleet management and jamming detection solution which keeps vehicles always visible in the presence of jamming conditions. “We are able to offer our customers the option of installing a non-GSM jamming detection module as part of their fleet management system.”
With the fleet management component, operators are able to monitor driver behaviour such as harsh acceleration and speeding. Significant fuel and maintenance costs will also be saved through monitoring factors such as engine performance and fuel consumption.