So if we think about this for a minute, it makes sense to start from where we get close to home and not inside the home itself. Approaching your home after being away for a while is probably the most crucial part of the defense, as a lot of hijackings and attacks happen in this space.
Have you seen the influx of videos where people are being attacked just as they pull up in front of their homes lately? Sadly it’s an increasing strategy used by criminals, you have no cover, no one to assist, and most probably never even expect it to happen. Yet it does happen. Often it is a well planned and timed attack where criminals will follow you for a few days to test your awareness, see what times you leave and who is in which vehicle.
Here's how you can work on this:
As you approach your home, whether you are walking, cycling, or driving, you need to constantly scan your surroundings to identify anything out of place. Switch of the music and air-conditioning system, reduce your speed, open a window slightly, and concentrate on your surroundings.
These are the most common things to look out for:
Approaching per vehicle:
- Any vehicle parked somewhere with number plates not familiar to your area.
- Any vehicle behind you when there is not much traffic, or if you suspect you are being followed.
- Any people gathering or walking down the street in an abnormal posture, speed, or interest in your presence.
- Any markings or indicators that are not supposed to be there. (Empty bottles, card boxes, rocks or small piles, etc.)
- Your animals act suspicious or do not greet you at the gate. (Animals always know when something is up)
- Your automated gate does not work, or you can visibly see something that restricts the gate from opening. (Cable tie, rope or wire, etc.)
- Your security guard is not present.
- Your complex gate is open.
- No electricity, when buildings or homes next to you or your complex has electricity.
- Drunken residents en route to your apartment.
- One of your vehicles or trailers is missing.
Once any of these are noticed I suggest the following reaction:
- Make sure the occupants in the vehicle know that you have seen them and that you are completely aware that they are not supposed to be there. Try to note the color, make, model, the number of occupants, and license plate number (Voice recorder works great). Next, you want to notify someone of this unfamiliar behavior before you try to approach your front gate (see action plan). Do not approach your driveway, drive around the block till you feel comfortable enough to approach the driveway.
- Drive around the block, making a complete circle. If the vehicle is still behind you, immediately phone police services. Another possibility is that more than 1 vehicle might be following you, if you do make a trip around the block and a new vehicle is behind you, repeat the process around a different block. Keep driving for as long as the confirmed vehicle is following you, drive to a police station or nearest place of help. Notify the police that you will be driving straight to them, and also what route you will be using.
- If possible, try to secretly record them. Do not make it obvious that they are being recorded, as this may give them a reason to approach you. Have your vehicle ready to go as quickly as possible if need be.
- When you are certain there is no threat you can remove all the obvious markings, but only after you have parked your vehicle securely. Make sure to dispose of all rubbish and lose objects in front of your yard.
- This can be for more than one reason. Firstly do not drive into your driveway. Secure your vehicle and enter on foot. Only once you can confirm there is no threat can you pull your vehicle into the driveway. If there is any threat, do not approach. Phone emergency services and activate your action plan. When your dog is barking abnormally at the gate, drive past and confirm that there is no threat outside the gate.
- When this happens you can be certain of an attempt of hijacking or attack. Immediately leave your driveway and activate your action plan. Phone police service and have them confirm that it’s safe to approach.
- Proceed with caution and have your phone ready to call for help when needed. Notify your emergency group/contacts of the situation before proceeding.
- Unless you see obvious signs of intrusion, proceed with caution. Notify your emergency contacts of the situation before proceeding. When there are obvious signs of intrusion, phone police services, and your emergency contacts. Wait for police services to clear the premises.
- Notify your emergency contacts. Always have a flashlight handy and use it to scan systematically through the premises before approaching your home. Listen to any noise and movement. Start by making sure your main supply box is locked and not tampered with. Once you are satisfied there is no threat outside, move into your home. Locate the route of the problem.
- This is not necessarily a threat but can easily escalate into one. Try to avoid them as much as possible. Notify your emergency contacts. Do not appear aggressive and move away as quickly as possible.
- Notify your emergency contacts! Approach with caution. If there is still an intruder present. Activate your action plan.
- When stopping in front of your gate, you want to leave enough space if possible to easily reverse and drive away, or turn around. If possible, practice reversing from your gate with speed.
- During night time, switch of your headlights in front of the gate, this enables you to look beyond and over your vehicle and helps your eyes adapt to the shadows easier.
- If you have to open your gate manually, do not switch off your vehicle, leave the keys inside, and close the door if possible. Often criminals just want the vehicle and will then leave you alone. But do not create temptation by leaving the door open.
- If you have occupants in the car like small children, women, or elderly, you have to switch off the vehicle and take the keys with you when opening the gate manually (if no one else can). This will be your negotiation tool to get everyone safely out of the vehicle. Do not be cocky or brave. Control your emotions. Ask for your family members to exit the car before handing over the keys. Make sure to show them you have the keys.
- If you do not open the gate, but someone else does, have everyone exit the vehicle together and watch every corner. This ensures your family is separated from the vehicle and have a greater chance of escape. They have to exit as quickly as possible.
- Never sit and wait inside your vehicle. Keep the vehicle idle and stand outside and wait, if possible. Constantly scan your surroundings.
- Make sure your rear-view mirror and side mirrors are properly aligned to be able to view as much space as possible.