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According to aggregated data recorded between 2017 and 2022, Tracker’s Vehicle Crime Index indicates a ramp-up in fleet crime annually during the months of October and November. Gauteng is South Africa’s vehicle crime hotspot during this period, with an average of 57% of national fleet hijacking incidents during this period occurring in the province.

South Africa’s fleet crime ‘silly season’ can be attributed to an increase in activity by businesses stocking up on inventory and a larger volume of deliveries during the likes of Black Friday, Cyber-Monday, and the festive shopping frenzy. More fleet vehicles are hijacked than stolen during this time of year, with this trend remaining consistent over the last few years.

When looking at national fleet hijacking and theft activations during the months of October and November, Duma Ngcobo, Chief Operations Officer at Tracker explains: “We saw in 2018, 53% of fleet activations reported during this timeframe were hijackings. In 2020, fleet hijackings during this period had increased to over 61% nationally. Forward a further two years and this trend continues, with 2022 reflecting that 64% of fleet activations during October and November related to hijacking.

This can be attributed to opportunistic criminals taking advantage of the additional fleet activity during this key retail trading period before it significantly declines in December.”

Given the time of year, vehicles are targeted for their loads and for cash. Where the hijacked loads have been reported to Tracker, 81% of these were fast moving consumable goods (FMCG) including alcohol, clothing, groceries, couriered parcels through online sales platforms, homeware and medication. To a lesser extent, but still noteworthy, were Agri-loads including soil, timber and farming equipment.

During the ‘silly season’ of 2022, Gauteng remained the busiest province in terms of activations, with noteworthy volumes across all weekdays, peaking Wednesdays and Fridays. Volumes of incidents reported to Tracker that prompted activation of recovery teams increased between the hours of 11:00 and 13:00, peaking around noon. Notable fleet hijacking volumes were also recorded in other areas including Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha and Durban.

“The most common modus operandi continues to be what we call ‘blue-light robberies’ - when drivers are approached by suspects dressed in SAPS/Metro police or other law enforcement uniforms, who then rob and/or hijack the vehicle,” says Ngcobo. “This is followed by the ‘something is wrong’ tactic – in which suspects urge drivers to pull over to tend to a fictitious issue with their vehicle, and then use the opportunity to carry out a crime.”

Highways and their main arterial byways are the preferred target areas of criminal syndicates in Gauteng. The top five hotspots in order of activations include:

  •  N12
  •  N1
  •  N14
  •  N3
  •  R28 (Randfontein Road)

“During this time, it’s advisable for fleet managers to employ technology to track trends including increased crime incidents and traffic volumes. Using this data will allow for the proactive planning of alternative routes, ensuring the safe and timely delivery of their loads. Unfortunately, there is no indication of fleet hijacking and theft incidents declining. Therefore, taking necessary precautions by utilising technology to safeguard drivers and their loads is fast becoming a non-negotiable.” concludes Ngcobo.