Tracker data shows change in hijacking trends

Source: Business Insider SA

Though Gauteng remains the country’s hijacking capital, more hijackings are now taking place in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

Gauteng has been the epicentre of vehicle crimes since Tracker started tracking hijacking and theft data 25 years ago. During the period, the province’s incidents accounted for 64% of South Africa’s total vehicle crimes.

However, in the past three years, Gauteng has had fewer incidents, with its average dropping to 56%, according to data released by vehicle tracking company Tracker on Tuesday shows.

More car crimes are now occurring in provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal, whose average increased to 19% from 16%, and the Western Cape, which has risen to 9% from 6%.

Cars are also increasingly more likely to be hijacked than stolen, Tracker said.

This is due to “opportunistic tactics,” Duma Ngcobo, Tracker’s chief operating officer, said, citing a noticeable increase in vehicles such as those ferrying fast-moving consumable goods being targeted for their loads.

In 2021 vehicle crime activities or hijackings rose to 54%, while car theft decreased to 46%, from 50% previously, higher than in 1999, when it had increased to 52%, overtaking theft at 48%.

“Drivers carrying large amounts of cash are also being targeted. South Africans should be wary and remain vigilant at all times, especially when returning home from shopping or when goods bought online are delivered to their homes. Hijackings are often violent and there are instances where a hostage is taken,” Ngcobo said.

“Further techniques include criminals impersonating law enforcement officials in order to commit hijackings, a method otherwise known as blue light robberies. Criminals also commit vehicle theft using online selling platforms, where sellers hand over goods on receipt of a fake payment,” Ngcobo said.

“Sometimes, criminals pretend there is something wrong with your vehicle, a method known as flagging down. They also take advantage of drivers stopped on the side of the road or those picking up hitchhikers,” he said.

The data shows that six provinces are more likely to experience hijacking than theft, with the Western Cape being the province with the highest hijacking incidents compared against car theft. Of the vehicle crimes it encounters, 72% are hijackings, and 22% are stolen cars, most taking place in the metropolitan area.

In Mpumalanga 70% of vehicle crimes are hijackings and 30% being car theft; Limpopo also experiences a higher number of hijackings at 62% against car theft at 38%, while the Eastern Cape sees 60% hijackings and 40% stolen cars.

Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal have the same split between car theft, 49%, and hijacking at 51%.

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