The results of the quarterly Tracker Vehicle Crime Index reveal that vehicle theft and hijacking trends in South Africa are unchanged from the annual Crime Index released in August. The statistics, from Tracker’s 1.1 million installed vehicle base for the period July to September 2019, provide insights into the time of day and day of the week when vehicle crime is most likely to occur in South Africa. The index also records the towns most affected by vehicle crime in all nine provinces, and the current trends in consumer and business crime.

The majority (58%) of all activations, where Tracker initiated recovery action, are in Gauteng. This is followed by Kwa-Zulu Natal, Western Cape, North West, Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Free State, Limpopo and Northern Cape, respectively. Johannesburg, Durban, Khayelitsha, Rustenburg, Tweefontein, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Polokwane and Postmasburg are the towns in each province most affected by hijacking. Theft is mostly reported in Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, Rustenburg, eMalahleni, Mthatha, Sasolburg, Polokwane and Kuruman.

Tracker data indicates that the most activations for hijackings take place on Saturday followed by Thursday, while vehicles are activated for theft equally on Friday and Saturday. Also, most activations for hijackings take place between 10:00 and 14:00 as well as 20:00 and midnight, on any day of the week, while theft activations occur mainly between 05:00 and 08:00.

Hostage taking during hijackings remains a concern. Similar to the company’s vehicle crime statistics for the period July 2018 to June 2019, an average of 29% of Tracker’s activations result in a hostage being taken, with 1% suffering a physical injury or fatality. Criminals impersonating law enforcement officials in order to commit hijackings, a method otherwise known as blue light robberies, also remains a concern. Business crime trends are unchanged with most of these vehicles being stolen to obtain the fast-moving consumable goods that they are carrying. However, there are instances where the vehicle itself is sought.

Hijacking hotspot routes include the N3 from Heidelberg to Vosloorus, the N12 from Phola to Daveyton, South Rand Road (N17), the R50/ Delmas Road, the N14, the R512, the Moroka Bypass on the N12, the Molefe Makinta Highway (M21), the Sybrand van Niekerk Freeway (R59) and the R21. However, hotspots can and do change frequently, therefore Tracker advises people to be vigilant wherever they go.

Tracker reports 1 524 vehicle recoveries, 315 arrests and 14 firearms recoveries for the quarter, which adds to the company’s total of over 96 000 vehicle recoveries, more than 18 500 arrests and nearly 1 000 firearm recoveries, since inception in 1996.

“While the 2018/2019 SAPS crime statistics noted a national decrease of 1.8% in car and truck hijackings and a national decrease of 4.6% in vehicle theft, vehicle related crime remains high with a total 17 208 car and truck hijackings and 48 324 vehicles reported stolen,” says Ron Knott-Craig, Executive Operational Services at Tracker South Africa. “The SAPS figures combined with Tracker’s statistics, which note a consistency in vehicle crime trends, indicate that South Africans should be wary and remain vigilant at all times. South Africans should be particularly vigilant at this time of year, as we have in the past noted a peak in vehicle related crimes during October and November.”

A criminal act can happen anywhere and at any time. Don’t believe it could never happen to you. Rather, keep these safety tips in mind:

• Be aware – Don’t be an easy target. While driving, be vigilant about your surroundings. Also, be alert and on the lookout for suspicious persons or vehicles. Avoid distractions such as talking on your mobile phone.
• Sensible parking – Always park your vehicle in a well-lit, properly secured parking area, ideally with security guards on duty and as close to the entrances of the building as possible. When you leave your vehicle, make sure the doors are properly locked.
• A little bit of planning – Know where you are going and plan your journey in advance by ensuring you have the correct directions to your destination.
• Watch your tail – Pay close attention to ensure that you are not being followed. If you think you are being followed drive to a police station or busy, well-lit area.
• Don’t be flashy – In some cases, hijackings and theft occur not for the vehicle itself but for the valuables inside. Keep valuables out of sight in the boot or under the seats.
• Drive on – If something looks suspicious as you’re approaching your destination, rather drive off and come back later.
• Be prepared – Have a back-up plan in case of an emergency.
• Testing, testing – Regularly test your tracking device to make sure it’s working, including the assist button if your device has one.
• Keep calm – If you are hijacked, remember your life is worth more than your valuables, so keep calm, co-operate and try to get away as quickly as possible.