New data from a vehicle tracking company points out how car hijacking numbers have recently surpassed car theft in South Africa.
Tracker has kept a close eye on vehicle crime trends in the country from its installed vehicle base since its inception 25 years ago, and the new data shows that hijacking versus theft now averages a 54% to 46% split.
These changes in vehicle crime trends can be attributed to two things.
Firstly, it is most likely due to hijacking being an opportunistic tactic, reports Business Day:
“There is a noticeable increase in vehicles being targeted for their loads, particularly fast-moving consumable goods,” says Duma Ngcobo, COO at Tracker SA.
“Drivers carrying large amounts of cash are also being targeted. South Africans should be wary and remain vigilant at all times, especially when returning home from shopping or when goods bought online are delivered to their homes. Hijackings are often violent and there are instances where a hostage is taken,” he says.
Secondly, the statistics show over the 25-year period that the level of vehicle crime was higher in the early years of vehicle tracking.
Per BusinessTech, at the peak in 1999, vehicle crime activities affected 4,5% of Tracker’s customer base, according to Ngcobo:
“However, this rate declined as vehicle tracking matured and the insurance industry drove an increase in subscriptions to vehicle tracking services. The level of vehicle crime has been consistent since 2012 at 0,7% of Tracker’s customer base, dropping to 0,6% for the past three years.”
So tracking technology has put criminals off stealing a car, just for the car, with the tactics evolving to include getting as much out of the situation as possible.
Other hijacking tactics include a method known as blue light robberies, which entails criminals pretending to be police so that they can flag a vehicle over and then commit the hijacking.
Another tactic is using online selling platforms, where sellers hand over goods on receipt of a fake payment.
More from Ngcobo:
“Sometimes, criminals pretend there is something wrong with your vehicle, a method known as flagging down. They also take advantage of drivers stopped on the side of the road or those picking up hitchhikers”.
From claims reported to DialDirect, it was reported in November last year that hijackings increased by 20% from 2019 to 2020, with over 30 000 hijackings happening in a single year.
The Western Cape now has the greatest hijacking to theft percentage in the country, with the majority of these occurring within the greater metropolitan area.
With hijacking on the rise, it is best to be extra vigilant and not take any chances.
This includes being aware of the when, where, and how of criminals looking for an opportunity.
Basically, as per The National Hijacking Prevention Academy (NHPA):
It’s almost like this kind of hypervigilance is part of a South African’s DNA, and it doesn’t look like we can drop our guards any time soon.
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