Hijackings in SA up 55 percent in four years
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Durban - Gauteng is the hot spot for vehicle theft and car hijackings, with almost two out of every three incidents occurring in that province.
Most of these incidents happen between 6pm and midnight, with Tuesday being the busiest time for criminals, according to statistics recently released by car tracking company Ctrack.
KwaZulu-Natal came in at 15 percent with car owners living on the Berea, in Durban Central, Phoenix, Umbilo and Chatsworth facing a higher chance of having their cars hijacked or stolen than those in other Durban suburbs. The Western Cape reported seven percent of the country's hijackings, the Eastern Cape five percent and Mpumalanga three percent.
40 hijackings a day
According to recent figures released by the Institute for Security Studies, hijackings in South Africa have increased by 55 percent in the past four years to at least 40 hijackings daily.
Berea Community Police Forum chairman Paul Antao, said he was not surprised that the Berea emerged as a vehicle theft hot spot.
“One needs to bear in mind that traffic leading to different areas in Durban has to pass through the Berea. Many times, these incidents occur in the driveways of residents. Most of our residents are affluent, especially in the Essenwood and Morningside areas, and they are followed home and hijacked in their driveways."
'These are often Mercedes-Benzes and Golf GTIs that are taken'
Antao added there were also a number of hijackings that occurred outside schools.
“We have a number of schools in our area, and while parents are waiting for their children, they are being hijacked," he said. "Then there are also incidents at traffic intersections.”
He said there were specific roads that were seen as hot spots within the Berea as hijackings occurred wherever there were large volumes of cars.
“We are appealing to motorists to be aware of their surroundings. They must not give money or food to beggars at traffic lights as hijack suspects can hide among them."
He warned drivers to be aware of being followed, more especially if they were driving vehicles described as high risk, particularly Mercedes-Benzes, VW Polos and SUV's.
Chatsworth Community Police Forum chairman Jakes Singh said in terms of the Chatsworth statistics, there could also be a number of false claims.
"We have found that criminals are more likely to strike when there are a lot of cars parked at public gatherings, temples, places of worship and so forth." he pointed out. "We urge those who host events at these venues, to make use of car and security guards.
“Another factor could also be due to the environmental structure of Chatsworth, where many cars park on the road.”
He added that they often warned motorists, especially young drivers who parked in secluded areas and those who socialised in their cars.
“Parking at secluded spots or having chats with your friends, parked in your car, makes you a target. Stop doing this,” warned Singh.
'Be extra cautious when approaching your home'
Provincial police spokesman Captain Nqobile Gwala said while hijackings happened almost anywhere in and around Durban, police warned drivers to be extra cautious when approaching their homes or traffic intersections.
“They must always look for anything suspicious." Gwala said. "Suspicious cars or people following them could hijack them. They must be vigilant and report these cars and people to police.".