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Car-jamming: Watch what could happen to you

2014-06-12 14:37

GONE IN A FLASH: A car-jamming thief helps himself to a laptop bag, in a couple of minutes, while the owner of the parked car is only a few metres away inside a convenience store in Midrand, Gauteng. Image: YouTube/Aon South Africa

Car-jamming is on the rise at an alarming rate in South Africa. Insurance company Aon SA spoke to Wheels24 and showed exactly how this criminal activity works.

And what you can do to prevent it.

People are also losing not only handbags, wallets and the like, but, laptops, tablets and smart phones which very often contain irreplaceable data.

INCREASE IN CRIME

A Wheels24 reader wrote to us in May 2014 to complain that he had been a victim of car-remote jamming at Broadacres shopping centre in Fourways, Johannesburg. The reader, who wished to remain anonymous, lost a laptop and other valuable items.  

But that's not all. Thieves also use this method to steal cars. Wheels24 also reported on how cars are electronically compromised and stolen within 60 seconds or less.

Aon SA delivered two videos showing how these criminals operate and just how quickly one becomes a victim. A woman from Midrand, Gauteng, shared them after requesting it for insurance purposes after falling victim to this method of theft.

VIDEO 1: Car-jamming thief in action

In the first, Aon South Africa says, the victim arrives in a silver hatchback and parks in the first parking bay. The bronze car next to her pulls out and the criminals, who have been hanging about close by, immediately pull in next to her in a white hatchback; the driver of the car gets out and heads into the store to keep an eye on the unsuspecting victim.

VIDEO 2: Car-jamming accomplice keeps an eye on victim

The victim presses the lock button on her remote as she walks away, but does not physically check to see whether the car is locked. You’ll see the indicators on the criminal’s vehicle next to her light up at this point, but not the lights on her vehicle. This is the point at which they are jamming the signal from her remote by using a household gate remote which operates at a 400 megahertz - the same as the car remote - preventing the locking action of the car from being activated.

Aon’s Mandy Barrett explained how car remote jamming works: “Remote jamming involves the blocking of car remotes using a household remote. Both operate at a 400 megahertz frequency and criminals effectively prevent the locking action of the car from being activated.  They then have easy access to the vehicle and your valuables without any forced entry.  

“Over the last few months we have noted a 30% increase in reported incidents. However, we expect the real figures to be significantly under-reported as many victims don’t bother to report the crime to their insurer as any resultant loss is usually not covered under an insurance policy unless there are signs of forced or violent entry.”

Barrett added that areas being targeted included car parks at schools and service stations; most people left handbags, wallets, iPads and laptops in their car while walking their children into school or visiting a store.  

“Shopping centres are also a favourite hunting ground. Criminals are usually parked close by looking for targets, and casually walk up and help themselves, in most instances not attracting attention."

ONLY SOLUTION?

Frustratingly, there isn’t much that anyone can do except to BE VIGILANT!

Barrett said: “Your only real defense against falling victim to remote jamming is to be aware of the practice and personally check your car's doors are locked.”

 • Make sure you hear the beep of your alarm system and the locks engaging.  
 • Physically check the doors and boot to make sure. Your valuables should be in your boot and out of sight.    

She added: “If one looks at the average value of items stolen in such an incident as R20 000 for a laptop and case, a cellphone, handbag, iPod and tablet, the loss is substantial especially considering that you would not be able to recover any of it through your insurance due to the absence of forced and violent entry.

“The reality is that jamming is being executed by professional gangs and drivers will need to remain vigilant to prevent falling victim to this scam.”

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  theft

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