Hijackers have changed their ‘business hours’ in South Africa

 ·12 Jun 2024

New data shows that the times of the day when most hijackings occur have shifted, with criminals now operating more frequently earlier in the day.

Hijackings are a significant concern in South Africa, and the latest stats show this type of crime continues to flourish.

According to Tracker’s latest Vehicle Crime Index, hijackings and car thefts had significantly increased by the end of 2023.

The index is based on data collected from Tracker’s over 1.1 million subscriptions. Nationally, hijackings accounted for 55% of all vehicle crime incidents, while theft accounted for 45%.

Tracker COO Duma Ngcobo said the company’s vehicle crime statistics align with the South African Police Service (SAPS) crime data, showing a steady increase in vehicle crime.

The SAPS’s latest report shows that approximately 66 cars are being stolen daily, a 6.5% rise from the previous year.

Operating hours

Commenting on the latest trends, Naked Insurance told BusinessTech that hijackers seemed to be operating earlier in the day compared to historical data.

“According to our data, hijackings account for 54% of vehicle thefts between 05h00 and 12h00, 47% from 12h00 to 21h00, and 25% between 21h00 and 05h00,” said Ernest North, the co-founder of Naked Insurance.

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

For example, the company said 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).

This shows hijackers are now choosing to operate earlier rather than later.

“There’s a common perception that crimes like hijacking mainly occur after dark, but these statistics remind us that drivers must remain vigilant at all times,” North added.

Commenting on the latest hijacking hotspots, Ngcobo highlighted that while shopping malls remain a primary hotspot for thefts in South Africa, Tracker’s data had flagged sporting and schooling events as primary hunting grounds for hijackings and car thefts across the country.

According to the SAPS, three provinces experienced a notable year-on-year increase (>10%) in hijackings – these being the Gauteng (14.4%), the Western Cape (14%) and North West (11%).

Interestingly, Kwa-Zulu Natal saw a 17.6% decrease in carjackings, followed by the Eastern Cape (-5.2%).

Of the reported incidents, Gauteng experienced the highest volume of vehicle crime, with 61% of the total incidents occurring there. KwaZulu-Natal was next at 14%, followed by the Western Cape at 9%.

The SAPS’ data also showed that sedans, hatchbacks, and coupes comprise 46.1% of the vehicles hijacked in South Africa, followed by bakkies and panel vans at 30.5%.

Read: The 10 cars least likely to be hijacked in South Africa

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