So you have this highly rewarding product which is in very high demand and relatively cheap to make. It’s the dream of any businessman, right? It is in such high demand, in fact, that even if you produce it at very high speed (and not in a particularly scrupulous way because that would be too expensive, and hey, customer don’t complain anyway), you can’t stay up to the request.
That’s quite bothersome, but hey, you are a bootlegger, and you don’t much care for fairness anyway. And other bootleggers are doing the same thing you do, which means they have the same product you need. And granted, their stokes are as well guarded as yours, patrolled by gunmen and their location are kept as secret as possible, but just like you, they won’t sell their stuff in the stockroom. No, they will send it out on tracks, which will be equally guarded by gunmen, but as you know fully well, moving targets are harder to guard.
So this is what you do. In addition to diverting legal denaturated alcohol from government stockyards and renaturate it, you steal from your competitors, mostly by hijacking their trucks, or even ships. It’s a very common way to obtain alcohol to sell on the black market and costs very little, and as all good businessmen, you love the sound of the sentence, it costs very little.
There is no definite explanation where the word hijack came from. Some sources derive it from the way the act was done. Supposedly, the member of one gang would approach the driver of a rival’s track with a smile and the greeting “Hi, Jack!”, then stuck the muzzle of a gat in the man’s face and relieved him of the load. Another source, track the use of the word back to 1923, at which time it was hyphenated, “hi-jacking”. So the word is supposed to come from “highway jackrolling”, meaning a theft by a show of force.
But like so many words born in the Roaring Twenties, there are all kinds of stories about it. But hay, what do you care, after all? What you do care is getting that load of gin that cost so little.