South Africa’s criminals have a new target

Criminals in South Africa have locked on to a target following the popularity of online ordering in a post Covid-19 environment – couriers.

An increase in courier vehicle theft has followed hot on the heels of the increase in online shopping under lockdown, says Alex Terblanche, head of Budget Business Insurance.

According to Statista’s market and consumer data, the eCommerce industry in South Africa is expected to reach approximately R62 million in revenue in 2020 and grow by 10% each year.

And with a projected total of 31.6 million local users by 2024, it’s clear that online shopping is fast becoming the way forward. Unfortunately, criminals have identified courier companies and vehicles as easy targets.

“We have noticed a spike in courier vehicle theft. In a few of these cases, the vehicles have been recovered but the goods are missing. The fact that the majority of these vans and vehicles are being taken by force or in armed robberies and hijackings is of great concern,” he said.

Theft of courier vehicles in Gauteng is markedly higher than in any other province, and currently poses a significant and growing risk, said Budget Business Insurance.

The times at which delivery/courier vehicles are most often stolen are generally ‘off-peak’ traffic hours, with 6% of total thefts occurring between 3-4 AM, 8% between 10-11 AM and 6% between 3-4 PM, the financial service firm said.

Tracking firm Netstar also pointed to an increase in the numbers. The trend, it said, is to loot the vehicle and leave it behind in the form of a hit and run.

Netstar  said that criminals generally target before close of business, as the vehicles travelling at night are normally returning to the depot and they are in most cases empty.

The red zone is typically the first few hours of the day when vehicles are followed from the depot. Employees should be extra vigilant during this time and routes should be varied so that there is no predictable route, said Terblanche.

He offers the following safety tips for online shoppers:

  • Make sure that you know which courier company will be making a delivery and when they will do so, just to ensure that you are fully alert and prepared.
  • Include clear instructions to the courier company for when they reach your home to avoid them spending extended periods of time outside the property, making them an easy target.
  • If security alerts have been issued in your area, share these with the courier company.
  • Pick the most secure spot available for collection of the parcel and signing of the delivery receipt – ideally one that isn’t publicly accessible.
  • When collecting a parcel, always keep an eye out for suspicious individuals or vehicles. Alert the courier driver and authorities if anything is amiss and do not open your gate unless it’s 100% safe to do so.

Read: South Africa crime stats 2020: everything you need to know

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South Africa’s criminals have a new target