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Has your vehicle been stolen? Here's how car thieves operate

2017-07-04 12:51

Image: YouTube

Cape Town - Car theft is a huge problem in South African but motorists continue to remain victims of the crime with statistics growing year on year. Here's how they do it.

Risk factor

Earlier in 2017, Wheels24 reported on the latest hijacking and car theft statistics in South Africa, as the survey revealed which passenger, bakkie and sports cars were either stolen or hijacked the most in the month of January according to vehicle tracking company, C-Track.

According to C-track's data, the most popular vehicle hijacked locally is the Volkswagen Polo, followed by Toyota and Ford respectively. Toyota's Fortuner is the most popular SUV to targeted by criminals, followed by Land Rover and Nissan.

The Toyota Hilux accounts for 39% of the most popular bakkies/light delivery vehicles to be stolen, followed by Ford, Nissan and Hyundai. Nissan, Scania and Freightliner make up for the three most popular trucks stolen.

Johan Jonck, editor of Arrive Alive, said: "We believe that an informed road user is a safer road user. With the rise in car-jackings/ hijackings in South Africa, it's important to assist our road users with information to keep them alert and vigilant to the threats on our roads.

"Data such as this from C-track and the other vehicle recovery companies dealing with these crimes daily, offers further insights to where and when these crimes are committed. Our roads will be safer when we all drive with an increased safety awareness."

Now, an Australian car trackers website called Car Trackers Club, recently conducted a similar survey looking at car theft statistics in Australia.

The organisation says: "The data revealed that more than 52 000 registered vehicles were stolen in 2014 alone, with more than 36 000 vehicles identified as short term thefts (recovered vehicles), and more than 16 000 described as theft for profit. The average age of the cars stolen was about 13 years, where 70% of short term thefts were recovered within 1 week (this doesn’t imply no damage done)."

READ: Hijacking hotspots: Worst areas in Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal

As a result of the alarming numbers, Car Trackers Club put together a list of ways and methods thieves use to steal vehicles, which the South African public can relate to as well.

1 Keys stolen during a burglary 

You may have several valuables in your home that interest enthusiastic burglars, but did you know that your car keys are high up on that list? In fact, many thieves break into houses with the sole intention of stealing car keys.

After a spate of reports, many reputed and leading publications even advise that you take your keys to bed when you sleep rather than leaving them in plain sight on the table. This not only gives thieves an unmatched opportunity to store things from the burglary, but also a rather effortless way to get away with them.

2 Keys left in your vehicle 

Yes, there are still people that leave their keys in their vehicles on short errands such as when making a quick stop at the ATM or grabbing something real quick from the store. But considering that it takes an opportunist thief just a few seconds to get in and make way with your vehicle, this is hardly a good practice.

Read the original article here.

3 Hot-wiring

Although this is a rather old method of stealing vehicles, it is less common today owing to factory installed immobilisers. However, older models or those without immobilisers are still susceptible to this method of car theft.

4 Other Methods

Some thieves may even note down the VIN and registration of your vehicle and may unscrupulously approach a dealer to get duplicate keys made. Next is taking your vehicle without consent where someone you know uses your car without your permission.

Carjacking is a scary one, and is where you’re threatened to give up your keys as part of a burglary. This doesn’t happen often, but it’s worth mentioning – some thieves use a tow truck to steal your vehicle, most often by first breaking into your vehicle and releasing the parking brake.


When and Where

Car thefts are generally more frequent between the months of October and March, and considerably less during the Winter months of June, July, August and September. When it comes to timing, most vehicles are stolen in the late afternoon and evening between 4pm and midnight with Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays being peak days.

Most people park their vehicles in well lit areas on the street because they believe that their car is more likely to be stolen off the street. But fact is that more than half of the vehicles stolen in Australia were from the home, with 27% being off the street. Whenever possible, is it a good practice to park your vehicle behind gates, in a garage or in a secure parking area.

Vehicle solutions company, Pro-Active South Africa, claims its new technology could have a serious impact on the recent 14% increase in hijacking in SA. 

The table below contains data pertaining to hijackings in high-risk areas throughout SA and may not reflect those of other areas. The National Hijack Prevention Academy of SA  confirms that most hijackings occur between 4am-8am and 4pm-8pm as indicated below but that the numbers could be much higher than the data Pro-Active has provided.  

We've added high risk areas and times below:


Schutte says: "This information goes to 137 security service providers and enforcers. After a hijacking, you enter your location on a PC,or use the GPS co-ordinates on your smartphone, and within 7 seconds your information is circulated to a closed network.

"When people are hijacked, from the time when the hijackers leave, until the time the police come, until the time the info is circulated, at least an hour lapses. Do you think that car is anywhere to be seen? It is gone, long ago,” says Schutte.

“With this app everyone can equip themselves with the tools to respond to a hijacking as quickly as possible. It is an empowering app which could have a powerful effect for the 40 victims of hijackings everyday in South Africa. It is our civic duty to apprehend hijackers that much faster."
 
According to statistics, South Africa loses over R8.5-billion to vehicle theft and hijacking. Of the vehicles stolen, 57% are taken across the border, 36% filter back into South Africa as cloned vehicles and the rest land in chop shops. The contribution of real-time intelligence could help lower these statistics.
 
The potential of this new technology is far reaching. “The effective distribution of information on vehicle theft and hijackings can even help lower the number of other crimes like house burglaries, armed robberies and cash-in-transit heists. This can benefit all South Africans as the apprehension of suspects will have a snowball effect on other forms of crime and possibly save a life.”

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