Warning signs alert drivers to dangerous areas along routes. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane/African News Agency.
Durban - Vehicle thefts have increased in Durban as have hijackings.

This is according to Community Police Forums that The Independent on Saturday spoke to after the release of the vehicle crime index for July to September by the tracking and telematics company, Tracker, which reported Durban as the city second-most affected by hijacking, after Johannesburg, and vehicle thefts, after Pretoria.

“Criminals impersonating law enforcement officials to commit hijackings, a method otherwise known as blue light robberies, also remains a concern,” read a statement from Tracker SA.

CPFs in Phoenix, Mayville and Chatsworth confirmed high incidences of hijackings, while those in Kloof, Durban North, Berea and Westville spoke of increased vehicle thefts not involving hijacking.

The latter CPFs credited increased patrolling for the drop in hijacking.

In Kloof, Ward 10, safety and security representative Nikki Moolman said the thefts were the work of syndicates whose identities security volunteers knew, were caught with the help of camera footage, but always got off.

“They are released due to lack of evidence. We’re so fed up,” she said.

“Residents will take things into their own hands if this happens repeatedly.”

She said in the past six months, at times, there had been as many as two vehicle thefts a day in the area.

Jakes Singh, chairperson of the Chatsworth CPF, said hijackers were car thieves who tended to “pounce” any moment patrols were not present.

“The criminals are watching us,” he said.

In Berea, CPF chairperson Nicky Burke said parked cars were the most vulnerable.

“There are a lot of restaurants so many people come here from other areas. How does one educate people from elsewhere? They also need to be careful not to leave valuables in their vehicles. If someone arrives at a destination and puts their bag in their boot, it’s not as if the criminals are not watching.

“Hijacking has not increased but theft of and out of vehicles is a concern.”

In the Mayville community policing area, which stretches from Manor Gardens to Sydenham, the people most vulnerable to hijacking were those who hung around in the streets, especially outside student communes, said CPF chairman Janus Horn.

Phoenix has also seen the increase in incidents of hijacking.

“More and more people are complaining about it,” said CPF chairperson Umesh Singh.

Often, criminals simply want a getaway car and sometimes they use toy guns, which victims cannot distinguish from the real thing.

While none of the CPF representatives spoke of blue light robberies in their areas, Chatsworth’s Singh said elderly people, particularly, had been vulnerable to criminals disguised as municipal workers.

By the time of going to press, the SAPS had not responded to a request for comment.

Tracker SA said its statistics revealed that vehicle theft and hijacking trends were unchanged from the country’s annual Crime Index released in August.

It said its statistics were compiled from 1.1 million vehicles installed with tracking devices.

“The majority (58%) of all activations where Tracker initiated recovery action are in Gauteng. This is followed by KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, North West, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Free State, Limpopo and Northern Cape, respectively.

Tracker said its data indicated that most hijackings take place on a Saturday, followed by Thursday, while most incidents of theft took place on Fridays and Saturdays.

Most hijackings take place between 10am and 2pm, and 8pm and midnight, on any day, while thefts occur mainly between 5am and 8am. It added that hostage taking during hijackings also remained a concern.

Independent On Saturday