SA hijackings are on the rise
On Friday the SAPS presented last year's crime statistics to Parliament, highlighting that the war against this violent crime is far from over.
Hijacking has surged over the past five years with 9 540 cars hijacked in 2012, 9 988 in 2013, 11 129 in 2014 and 12 773 in 2015.
There has been a significant reduction in vehicle theft over the same period, with 53 809 cars stolen in SA last year compared to 59 120 in 2012. This can be attributed to improved anti-theft measures in modern vehicles, which places vehicle owners at higher risk of violent crime.
As indicated in the table below, Gauteng is once again the carjacking capital of South Africa, with 6 429 cases of hijacking reported to police in a 16.2% increase last year. KZN was the province with the second highest number of hijackings (2358), ahead of Western Cape (1730).
Taking into consideration the vehicle population in South Africa, 49.7% (34 013) of vehicle crimes (theft and hijacking) occurred in Gauteng, 16.32% (11 166) in KwaZulu Natal and 15.2% (10 410) in the Western Cape.
Most vehicles were stolen at night (45.8%), 33.1% in the afternoon, 18.1% in the morning hours and 3.1% as unknown.
Of the vehicles stolen, 57% are taken across the border, 36% filter back into South Africa as cloned vehicles and the rest land in chop shops.
Most incidents took place on a Tuesday (18%), followed by Friday (16%), Wednesday and Thursday (15%), Saturday (13%), Monday (12%) and Sunday (11%).
The increases in so called trio crimes (carjackings, house and business robberies) are highlighted as being the most concerning.
“The trend is that hijackings and house robberies have become interlinked," says Andre Snyman, the founder of eBlockwatch. "They hijack you, rob your home and then kidnap you and take you to an ATM where they force you to draw money, and then wait till midnight and force you to draw more money. It’s like a one-stop shop for them."
Gareth Newham of the Institute for Security Studies, added that unlike other categories of crimes, trio offences can be easily combatted by the right police action, with specialised units working closely with SAPS crime intelligence.
“They did this in Gauteng between 2009 and 2011 and it was successful. Carjacking was reduced by 32%, house robberies 20% and business robberies by 19%," he says.
There has been a decline in theft of motor vehicle reported to the police from 2012 – 2015/2016 with 93.8% of incidents being reported in 2012 and only 89.5% of incidents being reported in 2015/2016.
"The reasoning by households for not reporting motor vehicle theft incidents to the police in 2015/2016 depict that 22.4% solved the incident themselves, 54.1% solved the incident through their family, with a staggering 23.5% indicating they believed the police won’t do anything about the incident," according to Pro-Active South Africa (www.pro-activesa.co.za), an intelligence-sharing database that uses a website to circulate details of stolen or hijacked vehicles.
HOW TO AVOID A HIJACKING
Don't enter your driveway if there is a car behind you that you even remotely suspect may be following you. Rather do a loop around the block and if the vehicle is still there, drive to the nearest police station. Also look out for suspicious vehicles in the vicinity before pulling into your driveway
Avoid entering parking areas when you have reason to suspect you're being followed – see previous point.
Always travel with the car doors locked.
Leave enough room between your car and the one in front to avoid being boxed in. Make sure you can see the rear tyres of the car in front.
Attract the attention of other motorists or pedestrians if you think you are in danger. You can use the hooter, flash your lights, put your emergency lights on or shout.
Be aware of anybody who approaches your car or is loitering near traffic lights, stop streets, parking areas or your driveway.
Don't stop if, for example, a passer-by indicates that your car has a flat tyre or other defect. Drive to the nearest service station or safe area and check it there.
Don't tell strangers your movements or plans.
Don't pick up hitchhikers or unknown people.
Don't leave your car door open and the engine running while opening your garage door or gates. Criminals act quicker than you would expect.