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Hijacking Levels Rise

5 August 2020

Tracker’s vehicle crime statistics for the year July 2019 to June 2020 indicate that hijacking is on the rise and remained prevalent during the lockdown period even with a significant drop in vehicle crime. Hijacking can also happen at any time of the day, any day of the week, and Tracker calls on the public to remain vigilant at all times.

Recorded from Tracker’s more than 1.1 million installed vehicle base, the statistics reveal that before the unprecedented event of lockdown, the number of vehicle crime activities rose nationally by 11% year-on-year, driven mainly by hijacking with an increase of 21%. Theft of vehicles, meanwhile, remained at a similar level to the previous year.

The lockdown period brought with it an extraordinary set of circumstances and vehicle crime numbers last seen decades ago, particularly during level 5 restrictions. In April, the number of vehicle crime activities nationally declined to only 19% of the average monthly vehicle crime activities. As the country’s restrictions were lifted vehicle crime activities increased, with May experiencing a three-fold increase to 62% of the average vehicle crime activities, while June was close to usual levels at 93%.

However, even with this drastic decrease in vehicle crime, hijacking was more prevalent than theft during lockdown. Hijacking attributed a higher percentage of the Tracker vehicle crime activities during lockdown when compared to theft, averaging a 56/44 split. This is an increase on the 50/50 split between hijacking and theft for the months before lockdown. It is a further increase on the previous year, which saw a 45/55 split in favour of theft. In addition, despite level 3 lockdown June 2020 hijacking numbers reached the same level as June 2019.

The latest data also indicates that there has been a shift in the trend regarding day of week and time of day when hijacking is reported. Hijacking is now prevalent throughout the week, from Tuesday to Saturday with only slightly less activity on Sundays and Mondays. Hijackings are also reported to Tracker throughout the day from 11am to midnight. Meanwhile theft is mainly reported around the weekend and during lunchtime hours.

Hostage taking is still a daily occurrence and remains a huge concern. Further crime trends noted by Tracker include a noticeable increase in vehicles being targeted for their loads, particularly food items and fast-moving consumable goods. Clients are also being robbed of their valuables and in some instance’s large amounts of cash.

The provinces and towns most affected by vehicle crime remain similar to past indices. Gauteng still experiences the most vehicle crime, with hijackings prevalent in Johannesburg. This is followed by KwaZulu-Natal with Durban in the top spot, and the Western Cape with hijackings mainly occurring in Mitchells Plain. Further hijacking hotspots include eMalahleni in Mpumalanga, Ibhayi in the Eastern Cape, Rustenburg in the North West, Burgersfort in Limpopo, Bloemfontein in the Free State and Dikhing in the Northern Cape.

Tracker’s efforts to combat vehicle crime resulted in 5447 vehicle recoveries, 819 arrests and 39 firearms recovered for the twelve months from July 2019 to June 2020.

“With the latest statistics indicating that hijacking can happen on any day of the week and at any time, it is clear that criminals are taking advantage of opportunistic situations and it is therefore imperative to always remain vigilant,” says Ron Knott-Craig, Executive: Operational Services at Tracker South Africa. “Make sure that your vehicle tracking device is in working order and make use of the features offered by your vehicle tracking service.”