Car thefts and hijackings appeared to have reduced dramatically through the Covid-19 pandemic, car insurance firm Naked co-founder Ernst North said in a statement yesterday.
Car thefts and hijackings appeared to have reduced dramatically through the Covid-19 pandemic, car insurance firm Naked co-founder Ernst North said in a statement yesterday.

Dramatic drop in car thefts in SA says Naked Insurance

By Edward West Time of article published Aug 3, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Car thefts and hijackings appeared to have reduced dramatically through the Covid-19 pandemic, car insurance firm Naked co-founder Ernst North said in a statement yesterday.

He said the one silver lining of the national Covid-19 lockdown was that next year’s car theft and hijacking numbers were likely to show a marked decrease, because Naked Insurance’s data reflected an 80 percent reduction in monthly claims for stolen or hijacked vehicles, relative to the pre-lockdown figures.

This had vindicated Naked’s decision to allow clients to pay just roughly 10 percent of their normal comprehensive premium until end September, while remaining covered.

South African Police Service (SAPS) statistics for 2019/2020 had showed that until March 31, prior to the lockdown, a South African car owner’s probability of falling victim to car theft or hijacking was about 1 in 121, or 0.826 percent, which was barely changed from 2018/9, when the probability was 0.827 percent.

An analysis from AI-driven car insurance provider, Naked, which overlaid the eNatis database of registered vehicles (cars and motorcycles) on crime statistics, showed that the number of hijackings had grown sharply by 13.3 percent through the year, while car thefts fell by 2.9 percent.

This was consistent with the trend in recent years, reflecting how improved technology had made it harder to steal new car models, thus lowering the probability of theft, a trend that was expected to continue as older cars were taken off the roads and newer models with better anti-theft technology form a bigger part of the fleet.

Vehicle hijackings increased steeply in Gauteng (16 percent), KwaZulu-Natal (10 percent) and the Western Cape (20 percent).

The number of hijacking cases nationwide climbed to 18 162 from 16 026.

“In practice, the probability of car thefts and hijackings could be higher than the numbers indicate, since not all incidents are reported to the police, and because some registered vehicles are seldom or never used,” said North.

The SAPS statistics reflected the 12-month period to March 31 and it was “worrying to see a rise in carjacking, and the threat remains high,” said North.

Santam, South Africa’s leading short-term insurer recently reported a “significant increase in daily vehicle-related claims for the month of May,” but it was still below a normal month’s expected claims, because as the lockdown eased, more South Africans were commuting meaning more cars on the roads exposed to everyday risks, such as accidents and theft.

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