South Africans are all too familiar with crime and especially car crime. Cartrack has released statistics and tips on what to do when you face some of the top car crimes in South Africa.
More than 1 400 vehicles are hijacked each month in South Africa, according to the latest crime statistics by the South African Police Service (SAPS). Be sure to keep an eye on people at intersections or unfamiliar cars in your neighbourhood and never disregard someone because they are dressed well.
If you are approached by a hijacker, keep your hands visible at all times. Avoid driving with your windows open and keep doors locked at all times. Put any valuable items out of sight.
If you suspect you are being followed, drive to your nearest police station or a busy, public area. When you approach a red light, slow down and drive slowly till it turns green to avoid stopping. Make sure you regularly service your car as well-maintained cars are less likely to break down and leave you vulnerable.
Remote jamming has become quite popular in South Africa. Jamming occurs when you leave your vehicle or home and push the remote to activate the locking and alarm system, and a criminal pushes a similar remote at the same time which effectively blocks the signal of the locking remote. While previously being boxed as a “shopping centre crime”, this crime is becoming popular in areas where people are less careful; such as schools, hospitals, in front of their homes and open spaces.
Be aware of your surroundings at all times and take note of suspicious persons or activity in and around the parking area. Report suspicious activity to centre management or security and do not leave valuables in an unattended vehicle. Be sure to check that the vehicle is indeed locked by testing the door and boot before walking away.
In most instances, you would leave your car under the care of a car guard, only to return to find that your car was broken into and your valuables were stolen. To avoid this happening to you, do not leave valuable items lying in full view, for example, on the car seat. Park your car in a secure parking lot close to other vehicles.
Lock your car when driving and when leaving it parked. Install window safety film. Not only will it serve as protection against potential smash and grab attacks, but if you use a tinted film, it makes it more difficult for would-be criminals to see into the vehicle – especially at night.
Smash and grabs
Smash and grabs are a common crime in South Africa, particularly in and around busy intersections of major metropolitan areas. The crime occurs at all times of the day. Criminals often work in pairs, with one distracting the driver, and the other smashing through a car’s window to grab valuables such as purses, bags, mobile phones and laptops.
Be alert. Criminals tend to target people who are distracted. When thieves can see valuables from outside the vehicle, you are definitely a target. Once again, keep any valuable items out of sight. Always keep your doors locked and avoid opening your window. You can keep one window open, but only slightly.
If your windows are struck by a spark plug it will provide some resilience. When driving at night, try driving in the middle lane, as criminals tend to hide in the bushes or grass next to the side lanes. If you see any obstacles in the road such as rocks or tyres do not get out of your car to move them. Rather try to drive around them or back up.
Some areas are notorious for smash-and-grab incidents. Be particularly careful whenever you see broken glass lying on the road. You can fit your window with protective smash-and-grab film, which is usually tinted so that no one can see into the car, while also preventing the windows from shattering.
It is important to always remember that your life is more valuable than any possession. If you do fall victim to a car crime, focus on preventing yourself and loved ones getting hurt. Remember to report the incident to the police as soon as possible. Drive safe!