Two thieves tell how they do the job

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IOL mot jan30 carthief INLSA On the take: Thabo, who specialises in stealing Toyotas, holds a gogqa, a ghost key used to start and open a car. Picture:Dumisani Dube

Some take one minute. Others take two. At tops it’s five minutes. And if they can’t steal it, they hijack it.

The going rate is anything from R3000 to R30 000 a car depending on what they steal.

And when it comes to hotspots, shopping malls are still their preference, offering a wide variety of cars to choose from.

Two Soweto car thieves spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity and revealed the ins and outs of the car theft industry.

Keith*, aged 33, is a serial car thief. Serving time for hijacking, he has stolen more than 100 vehicles in areas from Randburg to Melville.

“The Nissan 1400 bakkie and a Toyota bakkie,” said Keith, “take one minute to steal. A Golf takes two minutes and a Polo five minutes.”

But it depends on how you steal a car, he added.

One way is to bring your own computer box for the car. When cars don’t have computer boxes, a customised size eight Allen key will do.

The shorter end of the “L” shape is welded to a metal rod for the hand to rest on. The tip of the longer end is ground to a sharp point, flattened and then used to either unlock the car or start it.

“Golfs and Yarises are still in but the Toyota Fortuner is most popular. In fact 4x4s are in demand because they go over the border. You get good money for a 4x4 – between R15 000 and R20 000 on the spot.”

A Conquest is worth R3000 on the black market. The newer Toyota VVTI bakkie fetches R10 000.

For a Yaris and a Run X, Keith pocketed R7000 and R8000. A Golf 5 got him R25 000. A CitiGolf is worth R4000, unless it’s a Velocity or CitiRox model, which fetch between R6000 and R7000.

Keith’s haul would head for a scrapyard to be stripped for parts. The dealer, Keith said, wound make three times what he got by selling those parts separately.

For Thabo*, 25, who is not in jail, it’s different.

He specialises in Toyotas. And he works only on orders. A buyer calls and specifies what he wants. It’s his job to get it within two days.

His team will go to malls or to the suburbs. “We sit for an hour to see the situation,” he said.

Thabo’s role is to open and start the car.

“Two of us will approach the car we want. The third guy will sit in the car we came with.”

First Thabo forces the Allen key into the door lock to open the car. Then he uses the allen key to start the car. Sometimes he just strips off the ignition cover and “hot wires” the car by connecting the red and black wires together.

Both Keith and Thabo are unperturbed about alarms, tracking devices, car guards and police.

With tracking devices, each has his own method.

Keith would check the car himself for the device as they drive off, whereas Thabo drops the car off with an “expert” to locate the device.

“Security guards, car guards and petrol attendants are not a problem. Everyone needs money. If you give him R100 you can get away with that car,” Thabo says.

And their target areas?

“I often go to the Oriental Plaza in Fordsburg. We get most of the cars there, but Sunninghill and Randburg are easy to steal in. And Auckland Park, near the SABC, there are lots of cars that park in the street,” Thabo said.

* not their real names

-The Star

WHAT TO DO WHEN DRIVING:

-Make sure you are not being followed. This is particularly important after leaving a bank or shopping centre, as hijackers will often ‘shop’ there for their victims.

-If you have an electric gate, try not to pull up in front of it while you are waiting for it to open. If you do, hijackers can box you in by parking behind you.

-If you think you are being followed, perform four right turns before you go home. If the same vehicle is still behind you, go to the nearest police station.

-Clear all unnecessary foilage around your front gate and keep your front yard well lit. Dogs, circular security mirrors showing both sides of the wall and palisade fencing help to improve security.

-Lock your car doors when travelling.

-Tell someone your schedule so they can react if you don’t arrive within a reasonable time.

-Be wary of strangers standing at the gate. Hijackers sometimes pose as visitors trying to get hold of someone, and attack you as you pull up.

-When you arrive home, lock away your vehicle as soon as possible.

-If you have visitors, say your goodbyes inside your home and allow your guests to leave your property promptly.

-Maintain a gap between yourself and the car in front of you at an intersection, giving you an escape route in an emergency.

-Don’t allow yourself to be distracted at either the driver’s window or a passenger window.

*Tips courtesy of Tracker.


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emigrato, wrote

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07:00am on 1 February 2012
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that's why sa is voted the 3d most miserable country to live in

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Justice, wrote

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08:59am on 31 January 2012
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Try Sharia Law for a year, all the scum will run for their lives.....

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correspondent, wrote

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08:12pm on 30 January 2012
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get a volvo, no market for volvo..that's why it's called "Volvo... for life" cannot sell it even..lol.. but I got free tickets to the Volvo golf classiv at fancourt..one of the perks..LOL

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Lloyd, wrote

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05:06pm on 30 January 2012
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@Reality Check I disagree. It is YOUR like that are the problem Reality Check. I wonder how you will feel to be pushed onto the pavement with your face against the tar and a gun at the back of your head and firmly believe that this is the end, and think of never seeing your family again. Wait till this happens to you, and then come and tell us how you will feel. You will be baying for blood. You are the idiot.

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Anonymous, wrote

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05:03pm on 30 January 2012
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And South Africa is the best country in the world?????

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Alf, wrote

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04:51pm on 30 January 2012
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kcm, they cannot steal your French model because they will have no one to sell it to. They could steal it to commit a bank robbery, but then they would have to get the 207 GTI, which is scarce.I mean really, who is going to steal your C3 or C4 Picasso or DS3?

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kcm, wrote

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03:22pm on 30 January 2012
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The guy speaks of bringing his own computer box, are these guys that advanced. Now im scared for my french model as I had thought they were the toughest to steal, guess Im wrong.

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Anonymous, wrote

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02:42pm on 30 January 2012
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@Reality Check: It may seem that I do not care about human life, but you as someone who lives in a country like this should understand the stress, anxiety and anger that people live with on a daily basis. I am not saying that all people who steal should die... but I do relate to someone who is angry enough to say such a thing. I for one am sick to my stomach with all the death and violence in this country. I do not believe in violence will prevent violence, but for crying out loud, just take the time to understand why so many people are so incredibly angry - consider those who have lost loved ones for the price of a car - even the doctor who has been shot dead in cold blood for his car in the hijacking just recently. Would you understand his families anger and possible calls for those responsible to die?

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Anonymous, wrote

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12:52pm on 30 January 2012
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in the east ie thailand and china if you steal they cut your fingers off if a man rapes they cut his private parts off. our system here in sa is too lenient, which is why they continue to commit the crime as well as get away with it. PATHETIC. whats even more PATHETIC is the fact that a criminal was interviewed by the star and not even reported.

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The Steek, wrote

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12:47pm on 30 January 2012
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i love how u can see his face in the side mirrow , keep smilling

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Pauline, wrote

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12:26pm on 30 January 2012
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So they steal your sedan and treat it like a 4x4. No thanks, I don't want the car back, I don't want a tracking device.

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Reality Check, wrote

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12:11pm on 30 January 2012
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Leonie, you and your ilk are the problem here.... Indiscriminately baying for blood. If someone kills, then the death penalty may be justified. If someone terrorises you and takes your car, should they die by burning to death? As long as there are idiots like you walking around, there will never be peace in this country.

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Leonie, wrote

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11:15am on 30 January 2012
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Pity that when a SA guy invented the flames that come out on the side of your car where you just step on it next to the petrol in case of a hi-jacking Government banned it, but the USA bought the rights from him. Something like that should work here. they must shoot to kill all this car hi-jackers, there are to many of them. Get rid of all of them.

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Adrian, wrote

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10:52am on 30 January 2012
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Simple solution. Convicted car thieves get 25 yeas minimum

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thor, wrote

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10:52am on 30 January 2012
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They have said they drive the cars over the border, so why don't the government do everything in their power to protect our borders.....REASON: THEY DON'T CARE

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Anonymous, wrote

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10:47am on 30 January 2012
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Two issues here: - Is it ethical for The Star to interview this scum and not report them to the police, i.e. guarantee anonymity. They are not political activists, they are filthy criminals who should be behind bars (or even better - six foot under). - We live in an age of incredible technological advances; it can't be that difficult to make a car unstealable. The fact is, the car industry make more money when a car is stolen and replace through vehicle insurance - they have no motive to make their cars more difficult to steal.

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Discipline the young, wrote

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10:40am on 30 January 2012
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And some activists want spanking banned??!!! Look at the USA and the UK where spanking is banned. They have well behaved and disciplined youth don't they???

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Sirtillian, wrote

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10:28am on 30 January 2012
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Something needs to be invented that fries the electrics of the car as soon as there is a tamper on the wiring or a lock is forced. Then the car is dead where it stands. Im sure it will cost insurance companies a hell of a lot less to replace wiring than an entire car. Also pepper gas and smoke bombs in the car. Hey have invented other things before - let me see what I can come up with.

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MaxC, wrote

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10:20am on 30 January 2012
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U need a simple solution. All vehicles shoulh have tracker device. What's going on with the xtra R36 u pay, when paying your vehicle licence.

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Mnyango, wrote

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10:04am on 30 January 2012
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And look at the academic tips by Tracker. It looks like they didn't read an article or do not live is South Africa.

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