Durban — Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape are reporting the most incidents of vehicle hijackings and thefts.
That was according to Tracker which said its latest Vehicle Crime Index (VCI) indicated that Tracker’s client base experienced a 12% increase in vehicle theft in 2022 compared with 2021 and a 14% increase in hijackings for the same period.
Gauteng, KZN and the Western Cape were the three provinces reporting the most incidents although crime was increasing nationally.
Tracker chief operations officer Duma Ngcobo was concerned as the numbers drawn from over 1.1 million Tracker-installed vehicles continued to climb year on year.
“For 2022, incidents have increased by 13% from the previous year. Gauteng has risen by more than 18% with the largest contributor being vehicle theft which is up 22%, and hijackings up 15%. These figures are indicative of the harsh reality South African motorists face when taking to the road, and as we get on with our normal lives post-Covid lockdowns, these figures will no doubt continue to climb,” Ngcobo said.
He said keyless access theft had yet again been reported as one of the most common forms of vehicle theft which generally involved a team of criminals. Using a relay amplifier, a criminal can amplify the constantly transmitted signal from the vehicle’s key fob to a criminal counterpart’s relay transmitter. The criminal counterpart can then gain access to the vehicle via the transmitter and drive away with it.
Ngcobo said cars requiring a key were equally vulnerable and the threat of hijackings at intersections was an everyday reality.
“Consider installing or upgrading your vehicle tracking system to an option offering both theft retrieval and early notification of unauthorised movement, to ensure your tracking company can initiate vehicle recovery protocols immediately following a theft or hijacking. A vehicle tracker could also bring your insurance premiums down slightly,” Ngcobo said.
He said based on the VCI findings, Tracker had prepared a list of tips to mitigate theft and hijackings:
For keyless entry:
- Invest in a Faraday pouch lined with metallic material when storing your keyless entry key fob, as it blocks key fob signals and reduces the likelihood of criminals being able to amplify the signal to gain access to your vehicle.
- If your car with a keyless entry function does not park behind a locked gate or in a garage, try parking another car requiring a key behind it, making it more difficult to steal the keyless entry vehicle.
- Or consider deactivating the keyless entry function by following the instructions from your motor manufacturer or your vehicle handbook.
How to avoid being hijacked:
- Do not follow the same route to and from your destinations. Try to change this regularly so you don’t have a driving pattern.
- Predetermine your route before getting into the vehicle so there’s no need to stop next to the road or ask for directions.
- Find out which areas are high-risk crime and hijacking areas and avoid these.
- Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up, always.
- Ensure that there is always a half to full car-length space between you and the vehicle in front of you so you can get away should you witness or experience an attempted hijacking.
- When you are parking, check all your mirrors to gain awareness of your surroundings, especially before you exit your vehicle.
- Avoid sitting in a parked car, especially if you are reading or busy on your cellphone.
- If you see someone that might require roadside assistance, rather call the police or metro police to assist them.
How to prevent vehicle theft:
- Double-check that your windows are closed and that the doors are locked before walking away from your parked car.
- Park in a well-lit area and if possible, an area with cameras monitoring the parking area and pedestrian activity around your vehicle.
- Use a steering wheel lock and install an immobiliser. There is merit in having an additional system installed, even if your car has one built in. An audible alarm system is a further criminal deterrent.
- Do not leave a spare key for your vehicle near your vehicle.
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