Thabo Khoza, holds a “Gogqa” a ghost key used to start and open the car. He was explaining the process involved in car theft and high jacking. Picture: Dumisani Dube
THE capital ranks among the most dangerous cities in the country - and the heart of the CBD and Sunnyside in particular have the highest number of vehicle-related crime.

This was revealed in a reseach study conducted by the Livingstone Property Group for the 2015/16 financial year.

Pretoria central came out tops with the highest number of vehicle crime cases last year, followed by Sunnyside.

These crimes included stealing from vehicles, car theft and car hijackings.

The report said the CBD recorded an overall 1079 cases of vehicle-related crimes during that period, which included 851 cases of items stolen from cars, 223 cases of vehicle theft and five of car hijackings.

Lightstone used data from the SAPS annual crime statistics and then grouped the information down to a more granular level.

It classified malicious damage to residential property and home burglary as residential crime, and burglary, shoplifting and robbery at non-residential premises as non-residential crime.

And the researchers removed the other SAPS reported crimes that did not fit into either of these categories.

Sunnyside recorded an overall 964 cases of vehicle crime, including 704 cases of items stolen from inside a vehicle; 196 cases were opened of actual vehicles stolen and 64 cases of car hijackings.

Joburg central came in third with 845 cases of vehicle crimes; 496 cases of theft from vehicles. Just over 162 cases of vehicle theft were opened, with 187 car hijackings. The inner city of Durban also featured prominently on the list.

Sunnyside police spokesperson Captain Daniel Mavimbela said he was alarmed about Sunnyside’s ranking.

He said in almost all cases, criminals lifted items like laptops and cellphones from inside cars because motorists left them exposed.

Mavimbela said car break-ins, either with the intention to steal the motor vehicles or property inside the vehicles, was a big concern to local police.

The majority of other car hijackings happen when motorists were engaging with unknown women on the side of the road, were waiting inside their vehicles, either for friends or girlfriends, and before or after entering the premises of various flats in the area, he said.

There have been many calls from the police and other role players to discourage motorists from driving with valuables displayed on car seats, he said.

“Despite recent activities by local police to curb motor vehicle related crimes in Sunnyside, these still remain the most prevalent crimes locally."

Most recently in Sunnyside, a motorist allegedly had his VW Golf 7R taken at gunpoint after being found sitting inside the car in the company of his girlfriend, who was ordered to leave the scene by the suspect.

The incident reportedly happened at Spuy Street in the evening, when the 27-year-old victim’s laptops, cellphones and bank cards and pins were taken before he was later dropped off at an unknown location.

The vehicle has not been recovered.

Mavimbela said the police had been out on the streets the previous night, warning motorists against sitting inside their vehicles, including at the spot where the Golf 7 was reportedly hijacked.

Some of motorists appreciated the warnings, but some chose to ignore the police officers, he said.

In another incident, a woman also had her car hijacked at gunpoint after her son had remained inside the car while she went into a flat to see a relative.

But it was not all doom and gloom for the the city and the country at large.

There were some areas where crime increased slightly from 2015 to 2016 - with the differences being minimal - but for the most part, crime numbers are incontrovertibly down, the report said.

Livingstone said recent crime statistics revealed a drop in residential and non-residential crime last year, both in terms of absolute values and as a percentage of the population. That, it said, was good news for residential and commercial property owners.

The group said safety was a key consideration for anyone looking to buy property. “You want to know that your valuables and your nearest-and- dearest will be safe, and not live or work under constant threat of danger,” according to the company.

“Generally speaking, areas with lower crime rates are far more attractive to property buyers and renters, which means that as a property owner, you can ask more for your property in an area where crime is lower."