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Could South Africa’s Vehicle Crime Skyrocket in a Post-lockdown World?

by | May 18, 2020 | Blue Security Blog

When we entered this lockdown period we could only make an educated guess at the effect it would have on crime. Fast forward a number of weeks, we’ve seen several predicted trends emerge and even a few that we did not foresee, such as the climb in rooftop incidents, during mid April.
When South Africa went into shutdown,
• We saw a community still plagued by crime,
• A variety of new cyber scams arose themed to this COVID19 era,
Businesses became a common target,
and according to Tracker’s stats the balance between car theft and hijackings shifted as quiet streets and lone drivers created the ideal opportunity for hijacking incidents.
Pre-COVID19, the stats for vehicle theft and hijackings were 50/50, but during the initial lockdown the numbers slanted with an average 63/37% split towards hijackings. When the lockdown was extended, the stats evened out once again, most likely due to an increase in vehicle movement, after an easing in restrictions.
Since level 4 regulations were implemented, vehicle crime has begun rapidly returning to pre-lockdown levels and could possibly skyrocket in a post-lockdown world. With this in mind, we’ve compiled our top car crime safety tips to help you keep safe during these uncertain times.

Car Crime Safety Reminders:

Maintenance is a must

Cars left idle in the garage can start to act up – ensure that your vehicle maintenance is up to date. If you haven’t driven or started your car frequently during lockdown, check to make sure it still has life in it, and grab a pair of jumper cables at the next opportunity. This will decrease the likeliness of you breaking down alongside the road where you are left vulnerable to hijackers.

Times have changed

Previous high-risk hours for hijackings included 11am to 1pm and 8pm to 11pm. With curfews in place, we will likely see a change in peak hours as day-time hijackings become more prevalent. As we approach a post-lockdown world, remaining vigilant at ALL times is essential to keeping safe.

Keep criminals on their toes

Be cautious of the routes you take and if possible switch them up. Limitations on the possible places you can travel make your movements predictable. The parking lot of shopping centres, offices, petrol stations, and the driveway to your home – these present hotspot areas for opportunistic criminals that lie in wait.

Be aware of hijacking techniques

In the past, reports of hijackers mimicking traffic police officials, stopping drivers and robbing them of their valuables and their vehicles, was common. As roadblocks have become a more regular occurrence during lockdown, criminals might use this as an opportunity to target victims. If a roadblock appears suspicious to you and you are unsure that the vehicle or person pulling you over is an official, remember to remain calm and switch on your hazards – showing that you are prepared to cooperate – then drive to the nearest police station.

Be cautious of car theft modus operandi

Blue Security - Could South Africa's Vehicle Crime Skyrocket in a Post-lockdown World? - Theft of of vehicle stock

Keep your car clear of valuables.

Criminals get craftier with every passing day – it’s important to keep up with their latest modus operandi to avoid falling victim to their clever tactics. In a recent car crime trend caught on CCTV, thieves pulled up alongside a parked vehicle and before the driver could lock the car, the suspect secretly opened one of the doors – preventing it from locking.

Keep your car clean

Much like leaving the doors to your home wide open, a car with valuables in plain sight only creates temptation for thieves. Limit the items you carry around with you and if you do have valuables – store them in the boot of your car – out of sight of prying eyes.
In the event that you find yourself in a hijacking situation, remember to remain calm and do not attempt to argue with the hijackers. If asked to step out of the vehicle, use the hand closest to the seat belt to unclip it. Avoiding eye contact and refraining from any sudden gestures, comply with their requests. Always remember that your life is more valuable than your vehicle.
We’re in unknown times and with the impact lockdown has had on the economy and people’s livelihoods, South Africa is bound to see an increase in criminal activity. Remember to always be vigilant, keep your eyes and ears open and your mobile panic button close. 

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