GCINA NDWALANE, INLSA

Vehicle owners in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal face the highest probability of being carjacked or having their vehicle stolen, while those in the Northern Cape, Free State and Limpopo appear to be at the lowest statistical risk.

That’s according to an analysis from AI-driven car insurance provider, Naked, which overlays the eNatis database of registered vehicles (cars and motorcycles) on 2018/9 crime statistics from the South African Police Service (SAPS) to understand vehicle theft patterns across all nine provinces. 

As the economic powerhouse province, Gauteng accounts for 3.2 million registered cars and motorcycles – nearly 42% of the cars and bikes on the road. Around 48.5% of hijackings and around 50% of vehicle thefts in 2018/9 SAPS crime statistics were reported in the province. This indicates that at least 1% of cars registered in the province are hijacked or stolen per year.

“These findings are consistent with the vehicle crime patterns we see in our own claims statistics,” says Ernest North, co-founder at Naked. “In practice, the probability of car thefts and hijackings in each province could be higher than our numbers indicate, since not all incidents are reported to the police, and because some registered vehicles are seldom or never used.”

Kwa-Zulu Natal, with just over 1 million registered cars and motorcycles, also shows a theft/hijack probability of 1%. It accounts for 13.5% of the vehicle population and almost 17% of stolen and hijacked vehicles in 2018/9. The Western Cape has nearly 1.4 million registered cars/motorcycles on the road, which is 18% of the country’s total, but only accounted for 14% of the country’s hijackings and car thefts during the 2018/2019 period.

The province with the lowest probability of a crime related vehicle incident is Northern Cape, where only 0.2% of cars were affected during the period.

While it’s encouraging to see a 1.8% fall in carjacking and a 4.6% drop in car and motorbike theft in the newly released crime statistics for 2018/9, the threat remains high with more than 130 incidents of theft and around 44 of hijacking on an average day,” says North. “Looking at the crime statistics by province, area, vehicle make and time of day can help you to make appropriate decisions to mitigate the risks of being a victim of a carjacking or vehicle theft.”

North offers the following safety tips for drivers on South Africa’s roads:

·        Try to avoid driving or parking in an unsecured area at night when possible; be vigilant when you must travel at night. 

·        Be sure to drive with your windows closed and doors locked.

·        Keep valuables such as smartphones, computers and jewellery out of sight.

·        Drive straight to a police station if you suspect someone is following you.

·        Be calm and give the criminals your car and keys if you are hijacked. Keep your eyes down and your voice low. Don’t be a hero.

·        If you travel with children, seat the youngest child behind the driver and the oldest to the left. This will enable you to help smaller children out of the vehicle faster.

·        Familiarise yourself with the high-risk roads and suburbs in the areas where you regularly travel. Identify safe, well-lit routes for when you must travel at night.

·        Consider taking a hijack prevention and awareness training programme from an institution like the National Hijack Prevention Academy so that you are prepared if you face a hijacking. 

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