File picture: Gary Van Wyk / Independent Media.

Johannesburg - With more than 1400 vehicles hijacked every month in South Africa, vehicle tracking company Cartrack sheds some light on vehicle-related crimes along with some basic tips on what to do.

Hijacking

Keep an eye on people at intersections (or unfamiliar cars in your neighbourhood).

Never disregard someone because they are well dressed.

If you are approached by a hijacker, keep your hands visible at all times.

Unlock your car only when you’re close by.

Avoid driving with your windows open and keep the doors locked. Put all valuables out of sight.

If you suspect you are being followed, drive to your nearest police station or a busy public area.

On that note you should never enter your driveway if there is a car behind you, and you should also avoid leaving your premises if there are any suspicious-looking cars parked nearby.

When approaching a red traffic light, slow down so that you only reach it when it turns green.

A well-maintained car is less likely to break down and leave you vulnerable, so make sure you have your car serviced regularly.

Remote jamming

Remote jamming has become quite common in South Africa. This simply means that when you leave your vehicle and push the remote to activate the locking and alarm system, a criminal pushes a similar remote at the same time effectively blocking the signal of the locking remote.  

Whilst previously being boxed into a ‘shopping centre crime’, this crime is becoming popular in areas where one wouldn’t be as careful. Schools, hospitals, your front yard and other open spaces are hot areas.

Be aware of the surroundings at all times and take note of suspicious persons or activity in and around the parking area. Report suspicious activity to centre management or security.

Do not leave valuables in an unattended vehicle.

Be sure to check that the vehicle is indeed locked by testing the door and boot before walking away, and it's always a good idea to press the lock button more than once.

Car break-ins

In most instances, you would leave your car under the care of a car guard, only to return to find that your car was broken into and your valuables were stolen. 

Do not leave valuable items of value lying in full view on car seats.

Park your car in a secure parking lot where there are lots of other vehicles.

Lock your car when driving and when leaving it parked.

Install window safety film. Not only will it serve as protection against potential smash and grab attacks but if you use a tinted film, it makes it more difficult for would-be criminals to see into the vehicle – especially at night. 

Smash and Grabs

Smash and grabs are a common crime in South Africa, particularly in and around busy intersections of major metropolitan areas. The crime is perpetrated at all times of the day.

Criminals often work in twos, with one distracting the driver, and the other smashing through a car’s window to grab valuables such as purses, bags, mobile phones, laptops and various other items.

Be on the alert. Criminals tend to target those that are distracted.

When thieves can see valuables from outside the vehicle, you are definitely a target.

Always keep all doors locked.

You can keep one window open but only slightly. If your windows are struck by a spark plug it will provide some resilience.

When driving at night, try driving in the middle lane, as criminals tend to hide in the bushes/ grass next to the side lanes.

If you see any obstacles in the road such as rocks or tyres do not get out of your car to move them.

Some areas are notorious for smash-and-grab incidents. Be particularly careful whenever you see broken glass lying on the road. You can fit your window with protective smash-and-grab film, which is usually tinted so that no one can see into the car, while also preventing the windows from shattering.

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