Security company Fidelity SecureDrive has reported an increase in motor vehicle-related crime and hijackings across the country, with certain vehicles targeted over others.
Wahl Bartmann, chief executive of Fidelity Services group, noted that between April 2021 to May 2022 the provinces of Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal recorded the largest proportions of incidents on record with 231 incidents in Gauteng, followed by KZN with 186 reported incidents of hijackings.
Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg reported the most incidents per day compared to other cities. Incidents typically take place between 06h00-09h00 and 18h00-24h00 during peak traffic times and when there is reduced visibility at night, while most of the hijackings took place on Thursdays and Friday.
Fidelity’s data shows hijackers most often targeted Toyota and Volkswagen vehicles, with targeted models including:
- Toyota Hilux
- Volkswagen Polo
- Toyota Quantum
- Nissan NP200
The data shows white vehicles were disproportionately targeted (48.9%). This was also the case for silver-grey vehicles (18.9%).
Fidelity also noted that white or silver-grey vehicles are the most hijacked in the country.
White is by some margin (nearly half of all vehicles) the most popular vehicle colour in South Africa, followed by silver, and grey.
“In South Africa, white and silver cars are the easiest to resell, so they’re the most popular colour for new cars,” noted Ford Motor Company SA.
However, Fidelity stressed that, while criminals will likely prefer a neutral colour, it’s the make and model they are more interested in.
Security and police officials have warned of a disturbing increase in the number of car and truck hijackings in and around Gauteng, with an increasing number of incidents being perpetrated by fake police officials.
The trend sees groups of between two and five suspects who dress in traffic police uniforms and use a blue light mounted on the dashboard of their vehicle. Victims who believe they are dealing with bona fide police officials are held up against their will and dropped off in different areas around Gauteng.
South African Police Service (SAPS) officials indicated that a white Toyota Hilux double cab and / or a white VW Polo are the vehicles which are typically used to trap motorists, with incidents reported in the following areas:
- Bekkersdal – R28 road and N12
- Carletonville – Blybank road & Randfontein road
- Fochville – Corner N12 and R500.
- Randfontein – R559 – R28 and N14
Security group Fidelity has also noted the trend in incidents and advises motorists not to stop if they suspect that the person might be a bogus officer. Instead, motorists should drive to the nearest police station, shopping complex or any other busy area, it said.
“The West-Rand police would like to urge motorists or truck drivers to be more cautious and not be fooled by people dressed in police or traffic uniform. Residents are also encouraged to provide any information that can lead to the successful arrest of perpetrators behind hijackings in and around the district, the members of the public are urged to call,” the SAPS said.
Fidelity has partnered with the National Hijack Prevention Academy to offer drivers the following safety hints and tips:
If you suspect you are being followed, put your indicator on and slow down at least two to three houses prior to your home. If you are being followed, you will force the vehicle behind you to pass and this could cause the criminals to lose interest.
- If you need to stop in your driveway to manually open the gate, always leave the key in the ignition and the motor running unless you have a child in the car. Only then should you take the key with you as you open the gate. The key is a valuable negotiating tool – they want your car and you want your child.
- Always make sure you can see the back wheels of the car in front of you when you stop in the traffic. This gives you enough room to manoeuvre and escape.
- If you stay in a secure complex with security guards, do not be fooled into thinking you are safe. You can easily be followed into your complex so always remain vigilant. Research shows that most people relax the closer they get to home and this is often when they are most vulnerable.
Other tips provided by the group include:
- Do not stop at a deserted spot or area to talk on your phone or even relieve yourself;
- Always keep your windows closed;
- If someone tries to force you out of the road, don’t panic but just blow your horn constantly to draw attention;
- Do not stop for hitchhikers, even if it is a female hiker with a crying baby.