An unprecedented number of hijackings and cases of car theft have prompted affected companies to call for more vigilance from drivers.
Insurer DialDirect said it had seen a 30% increase in hijackings year-on-year.
Car-tracing company Tracker also released statistics suggesting that most hijackings happen in broad daylight, indicating increasingly brazen attacks.
According to Tracker data, most activations (of the tracking device) for hijackings took place on a Friday between 11am and 1pm, followed by 8pm to 11pm. Vehicles were activated for theft mainly on a Saturday between noon and 2pm.
Head of DialDirect Insurance, Tshifularo Maanda, warned that not only were hijackings becoming more frequent, the perpetrators were increasingly organised and relentless, operating like a business.
“A team of four hijackers – often numbed by alcohol and drugs – will take 30 to 40 cars a month, and could get as many as five or six cars a day,” said Maanda.
Tracker data showed that Gauteng was the most affected province, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
In Gauteng, Kensington, Arcadia and Eldorado Park were the most hit.
Incidences of car theft were the most prevalent on cars with Tracker devices in the Pretoria CBD, Arcadia and Sunnyside.
According to Maanda, when it comes to identifying areas and victims, hijackers operate where there’s a higher chance of getting the specific car they need, without presenting too much risk to themselves. People on their way back from shopping malls made for ideal targets, as they usually carried cash or cards which could be an added “bonus”.
Statistics published last year in the Stats SA victims of crime survey showed that 34,880 hijackings took place in South Africa. That’s one hijacking every 15 minutes.
According to the Tracker survey which used a database of its 1.1 million installed devices, the company recovered 5,438 vehicles from July 2018 to June 2019.
Maanda said drivers had to be more aware.
“Stay vigilant and if you see anything suspicious, stay away – especially from malls or when you are filling up with fuel,” he said.