According to the latest South African Police Service (SAPS) crime statistics, for the first three months of this year, 354 trucks or courier vans were reported as hijacked, representing a 24.6% increase compared to the same period in 2020. This works out to an average of four trucks or courier vans that are hijacked per day. These vehicles are being targeted for their cargo, usually food, appliances and other highly priced goods.

More South Africans are buying online and getting goods delivered to their homes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, courier activities have increased. With this uptick in couriers on our roads and the fact that most of the personnel are unarmed and without training to deal with hijackings, they are soft targets.

Usually, courier vans carrying high-value goods are specifically sought and targeted by syndicates. However, there are also opportunistic incidents that occur in residential areas. Either way, the situation is often violent and a threat to both delivery personnel and residents accepting deliveries.

Here are some tips to keep you, those that you live with, and delivery personnel safe when you are expecting a home delivery:

All clear
You wouldn’t normally invite strangers into your home, and the same applies with home deliveries. Before opening the door or gate, verify the identification of the person. Also, look for activity in the street that might indicate that the courier van is being followed. Make sure your driveway and the area around it is well lit at night and clear of shrubs or bushes that could block your view or be used as hiding spots.

Plan ahead
When ordering goods online, you usually get a notification of delivery date and, sometimes, time. This allows you to plan ahead, ensuring that someone is at home to accept the delivery. In some cases, depending on the supplier and what you have ordered, you can actually track delivery in real time. In other cases, the delivery personnel will phone you shortly before arriving.

Use these notifications to help with verifying that you are opening for the correct person, but also to prepare for the delivery. This way you can make sure that the delivery occurs as quickly as possible, and that you don’t keep the delivery personnel waiting outside your gate, which could attract negative attention.

Consider receiving the delivery inside your premises with the gate closed, particularly for big-ticket items that will attract attention, like a big screen TV.

Be aware
Be alert and on the lookout for suspicious persons or vehicles throughout the delivery. This includes checking if the courier van is being followed when they arrive, being vigilant while the delivery is taking place, and checking if any persons or vehicles are loitering in the street before they leave.

Savvy transactions
Often with online ordering you pay for the goods ahead of receiving them. Yet, for some deliveries, such as a pizza delivery, you might choose to pay with cash. Don’t flash the money during the delivery.

Try to avoid night deliveries as much as possible. Also, consider using a pick-up point or locker instead of home delivery.

Keep calm
Should an emergency situation arise, remember your life is worth more than valuables, so keep calm and co-operate. Get away from the situation if possible. Report the incident as soon as you can. Try to remember as much detail as possible to provide a good description to authorities that may assist them in identifying and apprehending the perpetrators.

“During a delivery, if something doesn’t seem right, or it feels unsafe, trust your gut,” says Duma Ngcobo, Chief Operating Officer at Tracker South Africa. “Have a plan that you can put into action in the event of an emergency situation. Try to ensure someone in the house observes your interactions with delivery personnel so they can request help if necessary. Consider subscribing to Tracker CareGuard, a rapid mobile emergency response that enables you to request immediate armed response assistance wherever you are, by simply dropping a location pin in WhatsApp.”