‘Hi Jack!’. . . as Leon Schuster famously uttered in the movie Panic Mechanic.
Hijackings are no laughing matter. However, some of the anti-hijacking devices can be. Here are some sane ideas and some not so much, on how to keep you and your set of wheels safe.
That’s a wrap – Get your car wrapped
A thin layer of vinyl may not seem like an effective anti-hijacking tool, but considering that the point of stealing a car is to get away unnoticed, the more you make your car stand out, the less likely it’ll be a target. A whole range of exotic and supercars were recently wrapped in standout plastic – including one in a riot of psychedelic rainbow colours – for the 2017 goldRush Rally in the USA. However, even a regular bakkie or a Disco Sport will stand out in the crowd with an unusual wrap.
Holy Smoke! – The Blaster (flamethrower)
This lethal and legal anti-hijacking device can be used to smoke a hijacker (literally); but only in a life-threatening situation, as a means of self-defence. Invented by South African Charl Fourie in 1998, it is operated by a foot pedal inside the car that, when pressed, blasts a jet of fire on either side of the vehicle at a would-be hijacker. At the time it was all abuzz in the press, 25 cars were fitted with this device. Since then, it seems the whole idea has gone up in smoke. Watch it in action online: https://youtu.be/aLhWzMOccTg
The usual suspects – Tracking devices
Tracking devices such as those offered by Tracker or Netstar are the most common way in which South Africans try to protect their cars. Some devices just track your car, while other more sophisticated systems will cut the engine shortly after a theft takes place. This has been known to irritate hijackers, however, sometimes with fatal consequences. A new product on the market, the Planetron Ghost (R4 999), allows the hijacker to drive for a few hundred metres before cutting out. If you are held at gunpoint inside the vehicle, the car will perform normally so as not to endanger your life, unlike other anti-hijacking devices that beep or cut the engine, annoying the hijacker”.
Get creative – Patent your own Denver (or Pretoria) Jock Strap
The Denver Jock Strap from Naked Gun 33⅓ is a fictitious anti-hijacking device that has a crushing delivery. When activated, a mechanical arm with a clamp at the end (similar to a crab’s pincher), shoots out from under the car and grabs the hijacker by the testicles. Ouch! Almost as bad as the flame thrower. Fortunately, this is just the stuff of imagination, but if you Google “funny self-defence items” you’ll find that there is a whole lot of weird stuff out there… Watch the Denver Jock Strap in action: https://youtu.be/e7EaJYXpz7Q
Trap the ‘jacker’ – Anti-hijacking system… for aircraft
This anti-hijacking device was not designed for cars but for airplanes, but it’s worth a mention. The late Gustano Pizzo (USA) invented an elctromechanical system to catch airplane hijackers. When activated, trap doors in the floor (just in front of the cockpit door) open and drop the hijacker into a sealed bag of sorts. The hijacker, still ensnared, is then ejected from the bottom of the plane through specially installed bay doors and floats down to earth, thanks to the automated parachute that is connected to the capsule. Theoretically, police would be alerted by radio and would be waiting for the hijacker to land. This unlikely anti-hijacking contraption has been patented and also won Mr Pizzo an Ignoble prize in safety engineering in 2013. (The Ignoble prize is a spoof prize awarded to scientists, engineers and the like who come up with, well ignoble ideas).
Getting hardcore – Armour plating
If you’re approached by a gun-wielding carjacker and your car is bulletproof, all you need to do is turn to face the assailant and like the penguins from Madagascar, “smile and wave boys, smile and wave”. Of course, it’s no good if you make your car impervious to bullets up to a ballistic protection level rating of B4 (hand-guns and shotguns) if the attacker has an AK47, which falls into the B6 category. Do your homework. Be warned that this is a pricey option. To give you some idea, an Infiniti QX80 starts at R1 440 700 in South Africa. MMI Armoured Cars is selling a new Infiniti QX80 56 (Level B6) for just under R3 million (or R2.2 million for the same vehicle with a B4 rating). There are cheaper options, of course, like a used armoured car, such as a 2013 Infiniti QX70 5.0 V8 (B6) with 59 000km on the clock for just under R1 million.