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Tracker’s latest vehicle crime index covering the period January-June 2022 reveal that incident volumes have increased to pre-Covid lockdown levels across the country.

Vehicle theft is up 7% nationally by volume with hijackings up 4% over the previous review period.

A victims of crime survey published by Stats SA shows that the number of incidents between the periods 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 has doubled from 64,000 to 137,000 incidents. “This makes car insurance for both new and used vehicles a necessity,” says Rudolf Britz, chief actuary at Momentum Insure.

The increase in car theft can partly be attributed to increased vehicle usage due to the return to the office and more social occasions as well as keyless access theft as a new modus operandi.

Momentum Insure’s Safe Dayz data demonstrates that customers’ average monthly journeys have stabilised since the easing of lockdown restrictions, indicating a new balance between being in the office and at home, and with it the intent to purchase vehicles has increased to pre-pandemic levels.

Tracker CEO Duma Ngcobo said: “While technology can provide convenience by allowing you to access your car without having to search for your keys, keyless access theft also highlights how criminals are turning to tech to make car theft easier.”

The keyless access tactic involves a pair or team of criminals, one of whom could follow a newer model vehicle owner as they walk away from a locked vehicle. Using a relay amplifier, a criminal can amplify the constantly transmitted signal received from the vehicle’s key fob to a criminal counterpart’s relay transmitter. The criminal counterpart can then gain access to the vehicle via the transmitter and drive away with it.

How to mitigate vehicle theft:

1. Invest in a secure Faraday pouch also known as a fob guard to store your key fob. It is lined with layers of metallic material, preventing criminals from intercepting the signal. 

2. If the front of your home and your vehicle are easily accessible, try to store your key fob as far away from your car’s location as possible to minimise the possibility of amplifying the key fob signal.

3. If your car is not parked securely behind a locked gate or in a garage when at home, try to park a car requiring a key behind your keyless car to ensure it cannot be driven away without increased effort.

4. Consider deactivating the keyless entry function.

5. Ensure that your doors are locked before walking away from your parked car as remote jamming as a modus operandi is still popular in criminal circles.

6. When parking, choose a well-lit area and, if possible, an area with cameras monitoring the parking area and pedestrian activity around your vehicle.

7. Use a steering wheel lock. They may be considered old-school, but they can be effective as a visual deterrent.

8. Install an extra immobiliser. There is merit for an additional system and as a bonus your car insurance premium could  be reduced.

9. Install CCTV to watch over your car when parked in your driveway and add a motion detector light. 

10. Consider installing or upgrading your vehicle tracking system to an option offering both theft retrieval and early notification of unauthorised movement.

Tracker encourages all South Africans to adopt proactive behaviours that could help mitigate vehicle theft.

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