Insurance group Infiniti has warned motorists in the country to be on alert as they prepare for the coming festive period, saying that criminals will be out looking to score their own Christmas bonuses this year.
The group said that the number of hijackings has spiked in the country over the past few years, with criminals becoming more violent and going for more than just a vehicle when perpetrating their crimes.
According to the latest crime statistics, the annual total for hijackings in South Africa has reached its highest point ever. The official crime statistics of the South African Police Services showed that reported carjackings increased by 8% in 2022/23, recording 22,742 cases.
“Motorists travelling to their various destinations this festive season will be more concerned about their road safety. Car hijacking has become a nightmare for motorists as the perpetrators use different modus operandi every year,” Infinit said.
The most recent trends include:
- Hijackers are targeting drivers of expensive vehicles, including SUVs and newer model cars. Security group Fidelity previously warned that high-value cars such as Toyota Prados and Toyota Landcruisers are among the most popular models for criminals, along with the Hilux bakkie and Fortuner SUVs.
- It is becoming more common that on top of having their vehicles stolen, victims are getting robbed of their valuables, such as laptops and cellphone devices and are being forced to transfer a considerable amount of cash using banking apps on their phones.
Security experts recently warned that so-called ‘banking app kidnapping‘ is on the rise in the country, in response to ATMs and cash handling being less frequently used.
In these cases, victims are held up or even kidnapped and then forced to make transfers and payments through their banking apps under duress.
These trends also tie into the wider trend of hijackings increasingly being turned into kidnappings, as criminals attempt to draw out as much money from their victims as possible.
Infiniti said that being a victim of a hijacking is not only traumatic but can be financially devastating, and urged motorists to be cautious and alert and to ensure they are covered.
Other insurance groups in the country have started requiring owners of high-value vehicles to install two tracking devices in their cars to mitigate risk and losses. Infiniti said that drivers should ensure they have adequate coverage for hijacking.
“Clients must find out if their insurer requires additional security features or tracking devices to be fitted to their car.
“If required, motorists must fit the necessary security features or tracking devices into their cars and be sure to do so within the timeframe given by their insurers to ensure that the policies remain in place. Your broker will be able to assist you to clarify the security requirements,” it said.
“Most importantly, read your insurance policy carefully to understand what is covered so that you know what to expect if your car is stolen. Your insurance policy will outline what is or is not covered in the event of a carjacking.”
In addition to the risks of financial loss, Paterson says there is a risk of personal injury if the carjacking does not go according to the plan.
“We encourage all motorists to be vigilant on the roads at all times and take notice of suspicious people and cars around you so that you reach your holiday destinations safely and enjoy your well-deserved break,” the group said.