Warning over new hijacking hotspot in South Africa – including when you’re most at risk

 ·15 Feb 2024

New data from Tracker South Africa shows hijacking and car thefts showed a notable increase by the end of 2023 – flagging sporting and schooling events as possible hotspots for criminals looking for vehicles.

Tracker’s latest Vehicle Crime Index shows a significant increase in hijackings and car theft from July until the end of 2023.

The Tracker Vehicle Crime Index aggregates information from Tracker’s more than 1.1 million subscriptions.

Tracker’s data indicates that at a national level, hijackings still dominate, accounting for 55% of all national vehicle crime incidents versus theft at 45%.

Gauteng is still the province that experiences the highest volume of vehicle crime, with 61% of the total vehicle crime incidents, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 14% and the Western Cape at 9%.

“Tracker’s vehicle crime statistics parallel the South African Police Service (SAPS) crime data for 2023, reflecting a steady increase in vehicle crime from quarter one to quarter three,” said Tracker COO Duma Ngcobo.

“It is imperative to remain vigilant, especially during peak shopping periods. Your safety should always take precedence over material possessions,” he added.

Concerningly, speaking to eNCA, Ngcobo noted while shopping malls remain a primary hotspot for thefts in South Africa, he added that data has flagged sporting and schooling events as another hotspot for hijackings and car thefts across the country.

Some notable examples of this trend are evident, with a deputy principal having been shot and injured during an attempted hijacking at a school in Durban, while a principal was kidnapped during a hijacking at his school in the Free State.

Day and Time

Commenting on the days of the week and times you’re most likely to fall victim to vehicle thieves in South Africa, Ngcobo flagged the end of the week as the more high-risk period.

“On a basic level, a vehicle can be stolen any day. However, specific days have been trended across Tracker’s footprint.

“For example, you are more likely to be hijacked on a Friday (between 15h00 and 22h00) and have your vehicle stolen on a Saturday (between 11h00 and 15h00),” he said.

Speaking on the models most targeted by the criminals, Ngcobo said bakkies and hatchbacks account for most of the incidents within Tracker’s footprint – due to their popularity locally and across the borders in neighbouring African countries.

Tracker’s data also aligns with that of Fidelity Services Group, which noted Toyota and Volkswagen are also the most popular car brands among South African motorists, and vehicle hijackings in the country are largely a business driven by supply and demand – which explains their popularity.

Statista confirmed this data, showing Toyota was the most commonly hijacked car brand in South Africa in 2023, accounting for 32% of reported hijackings, while Volkswagen made up 14%.

Read: Alarm bells for private schools in South Africa

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter