Hijackings are expected to increase before the festive season as criminals took advantage of a relaxed holiday atmosphere to fulfil their desire for cash and luxury items.
Insurance and vehicle tracking companies have warned motorists to be vigilant in the coming weeks, as history has proved that hijackings spike before Christmas.
Jerry Pierce, the operations manager at Cartrack, said this crime increased significantly from October until businesses closed in mid-December.
“This is often linked to the movement of migrant workers returning home for the holidays and needing extra cash for the festive season. Increases in truck hijackings are also noted as loads provide income from sales back into the market,” he said.
However, a heavy police presence during the peak holiday season served as a deterrent for hijackings in KZN.
Bradley du Chenne, senior executive of Dial Direct Insurance, agreed, saying that after the “quieter” December dip, hijackings returned to “normal” in January and February.
Martin Kriel, the regional managing director for ADT Security, said he believed the year-on-year increases in hijackings leading up to the festive period were due to criminals taking advantage of the relaxed atmosphere.
“We urge the public to remain aware of their surroundings as they go about their daily activities… Hijacking crimes are highly charged, stressful situations that have the potential to turn violent without warning.”
While there had not been any new trends or methods for hijackers, Kriel said, recent incidents had become more violent.
Pierce said Cartrack had seen an increase in hijackings mainly in middle class areas such as Westville, because there were more luxury vehicles there.
“We have also seen an increase in Pinetown, specifically from a commercial perspective in terms of trucks being hijacked.”
However, Du Chenne said Dial Direct’s incident ratio had shown “a slight but steady” decrease from 2010/2011 to 2011/2012.
This was also backed up police statistics, which showed that hijackings had decreased in KZN from 2 619 to 2 229.
“The trend for the first quarter of the current financial year (2012/13) shows that we are probably looking at this trend continuing or even stabilising,” Du Chenne said.
However, John Taylor, regional director of Altech Netstar, said this decrease was not validated by the company’s experience in certain parts of the province, especially the Durban metro area.
He added that the number of vehicles being fitted with stolen vehicle recovery devices and tracking devices was increasing.
Darryn le Grange, the managing director of Blue Security, said hijacking statistics among its clients had remained relatively static, although there was a spike during June and July.
THE CARS THEY TARGET?
SAPS spokesman Thulani Zwane agreed that hijackings in the province were “stable”.
He said hijackers targeted vehicles of any type or age.
Security professionals, however, said SUVs, 4x4s, the VW Golf, Toyota Fortuner and the Hyundai H100 delivery vehicle were the most popular hijacking targets.