A MAN uses a normal home remote to jam a car's remote. Motorists should ensure their cars are locked, the writer says. Paballo Thekiso African News Agency (ANA)
Don’t walk away from your vehicle before checking it is locked in order to mitigate the chances of falling prey to car-jamming, warns Marius Steyn, Santam underwriting manager.

Steyn says, according to the State of Urban Safety in South Africa Report, there has been a 58 percent increase in car-jacking since 2011.

He says that remote jamming, or car-jamming, is a practice where criminals use a signal-jamming device to prevent a car’s central locking and alarm systems from being activated, leaving a vehicle vulnerable to theft and vandalism.

“Car-jamming continues to be an escalating safety concern for many South Africans. Motorist often walk away from their cars while pressing their remote without ensuring that their vehicles are physically locked. Because of this behaviour, criminals are provided the opportunity to commit a crime like car-jamming,” says Steyn.

Asked whether insurers quoted clients higher premiums if, when taking out cover, they indicated that they regularly parked in public parking spaces, he responded: “Currently, at Santam it does not influence the premium.”

Steyn says that if motorists do fall victim to car-jamming, they should not get in a “jam” with their insurance.

The following conditions usually apply to most policyholders: “In most cases, personal insurance policies covers the theft of insured property from a locked vehicle subject to the limitations and conditions of the policy. To strengthen the success of the claims process, video footage from surrounding CCTV, would support (it). If, however, it is later proved that the vehicle was, in fact, not locked, the insurer has the right to reject the claim.”

He says some policies require that theft from an unattended vehicle be accompanied by forcible and violent entry or exit.

“The best practice is to understand the conditions of your insurance policy. It also cannot be stressed enough that it is important to always check and double check that your car is secure and that you’ve stored your belongings away in a safe place.”

According to Aon insurance, remote jamming involves the blocking of car remotes using a household remote, as both car remotes and household remotes operate on a 400-megahertz frequency and criminals effectively prevent the locking action of the car from being activated and can then have easy access to the vehicle and its contents without any forced entry.

“Parking areas outside schools are being targeted, as these are particularly easy pickings for criminals, as many parents leave valuables such as handbags, wallets, iPads and laptops in their cars while they walk their children into school. Quieter shopping centres with less security are also a favourite hunting ground,” says Aon.

Steyn says you should check immobiliser devices and security systems regularly. If there are faults, get the devices repaired or replaced.

Store items such as sunglasses and cellphones in a glove compartment or locked boot. This reduces the temptation to steal.

PERSONAL FINANCE