Vehicle hijacking has become a sophisticated business in South Africa, with criminals and syndicates targeting victims from shopping centres and other public places, and then robbing them of their vehicle and possessions in their driveway, or complex entrance.
In September, the South African Police Service published crime stats for 2018 (April 2017 – March 2018), showing that as many as 16,325 carjackings were committed – 45 every day.
According to the South African president of the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators, Phillip Opperman, hijackers primarily target vehicles ‘to order’.
Speaking to eNCA’s Yusuf Abramjee, Opperman said that that there are typically two categories of vehicles being hijacked in South Africa – commercial vehicles which are hijacked for the load and high-value SUV vehicles which are hijacked according to order.
“It depends on the order and there isn’t actually a car that is popular as such,” he said.
When pushed by Abramjee, Opperman highlighted the following cars which have been targeted according to past orders:
- Ford Ranger
- Toyota Hilux
- BMW X5
“As technology is increasing (hijackers) can no longer steal these cars so they have to hijack them to fulfil these orders,” he said.
Opperman added that there has been an increase in the number of incidences where hijacked motorists are held hostage and forced to withdraw money from an ATM by the hijackers.
“That is, unfortunately, one of their modus operandi and there has been an increase in (these cases),” he said.
“Not only are these hijackers holding them but women are raped and men are badly beaten – it’s a crisis,” Opperman said.
He said that while one criminal tries to uninstall a car’s tracking device, it enables other members of the unit to search the vehicle and its owner for additional items.
“They find cards and it acts as additional revenue – its a bonus,” he said.
Despite this issue, Opperman said it was still valuable to have a tracking device installed in your vehicle with 87% of these hijacked vehicles recovered.