Surge in car jamming incidents during peak shopping periods

Data from vehicle tracking and recovery firm Netstar shows an uptick in remote jamming of vehicle immobilisers in the run-up to Black Friday and peak shopping periods.

The device used to jam the remote signals is often a customised version of a 400MHz gate or garage remote control, Netstar said, and while car-jamming is relatively common, perpetrators are rarely caught.

Netstar data shows a downward trend for car-jamming incidents over the course of the year, but there has been a steep increase over the past week, in the run-up to Black Friday and the subsequent peak festive shopping season, it said.

“The pandemic lockdown saw far less travel by South African motorists, and therefore fewer car-jamming incidents,” said Netstar chief technology officer Clifford de Wit. “However, as we’ve returned to a Level 1 lockdown, and perhaps due to more shopping towards the end of the year, we have seen a rise in car-jamming.”

Netstar figures show that after a gradual decline throughout the year, since the middle of November, car-jamming incidents have surged 66%.

De Wit recommended that motorists take the following precautions to reduce their chances of falling victim to car-jamming:

  • Listen for the sound your car makes when it locks. Wait and watch the car lights flash to indicate it is locked.
  • Physically check that your vehicle is locked, using the door handle. Don’t simply press your vehicle remote and walk away.
  • Park as close to the entrance of shopping centres as possible. There are usually crowds in this area, and security cameras.
  • If you have difficulty locking your car, move your car to a safer spot, or leave.
  • Always be aware of your surroundings. If you see any suspicious individuals around the parking area, notify security.

“Remote jamming stops the vehicle from receiving signals from your remote,” said de Wit. “It is like a noise in a room – anyone can talk, but the noise prevents people from hearing.”

He said that there is technology that proactively prevents this type of crime. “Tracking and jamming-prevention technology can detect and resist signals from potential jamming devices near where your vehicle is parked,” he said.


Read: Hijackings on the rise in South Africa – here are the hotspot areas

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Surge in car jamming incidents during peak shopping periods