While hijackings and car theft are unfortunately a reality of our daily lives in South Africa, they are a bigger concern than ever before, with the most recent crime statistics indicating a significant increase in these crimes.
Hijacking on the rise
The latest crime statistics show truck hijackings increasing by 37%, car hijackings increasing by 24% and vehicle theft increasing by 14% (SA crime stats: Q2 2021/22 vs Q2 2022/23). This is even more alarming as it is estimated that less than 60% of households report motor theft to the police.
Unfortunately, the worsening economic conditions in our country have been a contributing factor to the uptick in criminals engaging in aggravated robbery – a category of crime that includes carjacking and truck hijacking. The average number of hijackings per day has increased by 21 vehicles on average since 2018. On average as many as 65 cars are being stolen daily, which equates to one stolen every 22 minutes.
Similarly to other crime categories, South Africa’s most populous regions are hijacking hotspots, with Gauteng accounting for the majority of the nation’s car hijackings, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
These statistics are extremely worrying for South African motorists who already have to contend with unmaintained roads, faulty robots and load shedding.
Common hijacking trends
Interestingly, data shows that white vehicles are the most likely targets of hijackings, followed by silver-grey vehicles. According to Arrive Alive’s Hijack Prevention Guidelines, Fridays are the most popular day for hijackings, due to drivers being more relaxed, and the most popular time for hijacking falls between 16:00-20:00.
While there are many hijacking syndicates in South Africa, it is also a crime of opportunity, meaning that motorists can lower their chances of falling victim by avoiding any situations that make them vulnerable to criminals.
Popular modus operandi for hijackers include:
– Targeting motorists when they’re stationary on the side of the road
– Blocking off drivers’ escape routes in a drive-thru queue
– Attacking motorists in isolated parking lots
How to avoid a potentially dangerous situation
While vigilance is the best way to avoid dangerous situations and the risk of a potential hijacking, here are some other ways to increase your safety:
– Only use busy drive-thrus that are well-lit and have a clear exit route available
– Always ensure that you stop at least half a car’s length away from the vehicle in front of you to give you enough time to manoeuvre and drive away
– Avoid stopping on the side of the road; instead, plan your route ahead of time and stop at petrol stations
– Install a vehicle tracking or recovery device.
The chance of your vehicle being recovered without a tracking device is as low as 5-10%, making having a tracking device installed an absolute must – especially as you can, in many instances, negotiate a discount off your monthly insurance premium. “At Matrix, we offer the most advanced vehicle tracking technology on the market to ensure your safety, your family’s safety, and the safety of your vehicle,” says Ryan Colyn, Sales Director at MiX Telematics Africa. “Our GPS Pinpoint Positioning enables our highly trained team to track your vehicle in real time. The Beame stolen vehicle recovery service has one of the highest recovery rates in the industry and aims to recover your vehicle in the shortest time possible.”
Hijacking and vehicle theft are two things all motorists dread, but by practising vigilance, being conscious of your behaviour and making use of technology, you can lower your risk.