Road Safety and Protecting yourself against Vehicle Crime

The chances are that you or someone close to you has been the victim of vehicle crime.

Vehicle crime can vary from having your cell phone stolen at a dark intersection by someone who smashes your window to losing your laptop to a thief with a vehicle scanner. But it also includes the theft of your car and related criminal activities that affect you as a motorist, such as a cable theft that leaves traffic lights dead or the theft of crash barriers and manhole covers that pose a major risk to you on the road.

Unfortunately, vehicle crime has become very prevalent in South Africa to the point that many people even joke about hijackings, vehicle theft or smash-and-grab incidents. People will often also speak of certain ‘high-risk’ cars and they may even avoid buying certain cars because they are afraid of the potential hijack or theft risk.

Crime is indiscriminate
While some cars appear to be more of a theft or hijacking risk, it is clear that crime affects all motorists.

According to the South African Police Service, 53 307 cars and motorcycles were stolen in the April 2016 to March 2017 period. While this is much lower than 10 years ago, it still means that almost 150 cars and bikes are stolen every day in South Africa.

To find more detailed statistics on which cars are most often stolen can be difficult, but when you phone insurers to find out, they will often tell you that certain cars, bakkies and SUVs are ‘high risk’ and ‘frequently stolen’ and you may end up paying a lot more to ensure one of these vehicles.

While you could argue that some cars are being targeted by criminals, you should consider that many of these ‘at risk’ cars are victims of their own popularity. For instance: If you sell 1 000 units of a specific car every month, and 10% are stolen, then the police will see 100 cases of this car being stolen every month and they will call it a high-risk vehicle.

Another model may not be popular and only sell 60 units a month and even if all of them are stolen every month, the police will still see fewer reports than those of the popular car and they may not consider the second car a high-risk model.

While the debate on high-risk and low-risk cars will continue, the theft of goods from your vehicle is certainly not restricted to high-risk vehicles.

Think of typical crimes like smash-and-grab, where someone may smash your window with a brick or a sharp object to steal your cell phone or purse. Or the growing risk of vehicle scanning, where a criminal blocks the signal from your key with a signal jammer, leaving your car open when you believe you have locked it.

There are also many reported instances where a criminal would smash a rear door window or jam a door lock with something like a screwdriver to break into your vehicle and steal the contents.

According to some sources, there are over 140 000 instances of vehicle-related crimes a year. This translates into more than 380 instances of smash-and-grab, vehicle content theft or related crimes every single day…


By Arrive Alive

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