Criminal syndicates are changing the way they hijack victims in South Africa, says Duma Ngcobo, the chief operating officer for Tracker South Africa.
Speaking to ENCA, Ngcobo said that as vehicle technology has improved, with many cars now having a ‘push to start’ button, criminals have had to adapt.
He highlighted the recent shifts in hijacking trends, including the increased use of key re-programmers and signal grabbers.
Criminal syndicates change their modus operandi, and trends change all the time, he said. Trends also change frequently based on location – for example, there are more hijackings taking place in Johannesburg while there are more car thefts in Pretoria.
“One of the things that has happened, unfortunately – and 2020 was a real game changer – was that the probability that people are ordering stuff to be delivered to their homes has increased significantly.”
Because of this, Ngcobo said that people are now being targeted when they wait at their gate for delivery, with the gate being blocked by a criminal, allowing them to gain entry into the property and access to vehicles.
He added that criminals often take advantage of victims outside sporting events on the weekend, while they are unaware or distracted.
Hijackers take advantage of their victims when they are most relaxed, Ngcobo said, urging South Africans always to be alert and aware of their surroundings.
This includes taking note if someone is driving behind you and making similar turns, as well as sharing your location throughout a journey with loved ones or being in the car with someone when driving at night.
The latest data published by the South African Police Service (SAPS) shows that every 25 minutes, a vehicle is hijacked in South Africa. In the main metros of South Africa, between January and March of this year, there were 5,402 hijackings.
When it comes to vehicles and vehicle types that are targetted by hijackers, bakkies continue to be high on the list for the probability of getting hijacked, Ngcobo said.
Security company Fidelity’s recent data shows hijackers most often targeted Toyota and Volkswagen vehicles, with targetted models including:
- Toyota Hilux
- Volkswagen Polo
- Toyota Quantum
- Nissan NP200
Netstar said in June that hijackers are increasingly using jammers in public places such as malls, gyms and other high-traffic areas or outside ATMs.
The company offered the following tips to stay safe and prevent a possible hijacking:
- Take note of similar vehicles: Hijackings are often well planned. The target is followed for days before the incident; therefore, take note if you see the same vehicles that keep popping up on your daily travels.
- Report: Always report any suspicious activity immediately to your local neighbourhood watch or security company.
- Don’t just drive into your driveway: Be cognizant of what vehicles are around you, and if a vehicle has been taking the same turns as you, do not just drive into your driveway.
- Keep moving: Try to have someone open a gate for you if it is not electric, and if it is, try to open it for the minimum time possible with the least stationary time in your vehicle.
- Consider time: Always be aware and alert of your surroundings, especially when pulling into driveways and idling at traffic lights. We generally find that the hijacking peak occurs late in the evening when people may be returning home from work and are tired and relaxed.