Hijackings, vehicle theft increases as restrictions are lifted – Tracker

'We are also seeing more hijackers taking victims as hostages and forcing them to withdraw cash from ATMs before freeing them.'

As South Africa’s lockdown restrictions are gradually being lifted, criminal activity, including vehicle crime, is fast returning to pre-lockdown levels.

According to data compiled by vehicle tracking service provider Tracker, vehicle crime has seen a steep increase as restrictions are lifted.

“Criminals have returned to their activities and drivers have to be particularly vigilant,” said anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee.

“We are observing dramatic increases in hijackings and motor-vehicle theft – criminal syndicates are at work,” said Abramjee.

“We are also seeing more hijackers taking victims as hostages and forcing them to withdraw cash from ATMs before freeing them.”

“This is extremely concerning and it is bound to get worse. Our unemployment rates are soaring due to the effect that the lockdown has had on our economy and criminals are getting desperate,” said Abramjee.

Abramjee advised local residents always to be alert.

“Take the necessary safety precautions. Criminals are desperate and motor-vehicle-theft and hijacking gangs are dangerous.”

Abramjee recommended the following guidelines for drivers to protect themselves against vehicle crime:

  • Make sure your parked car is locked, and valuables are out of sight. It is important to know which security systems you have in your vehicle and how they can protect you. Most modern cars are fitted with alarms and motion sensors to detect and deter any forceful entry.
  • Always check if your car is, in fact, locked. A car will not signal that it is locked if the signal has been jammed, but it doesn’t hurt to test the door handle and check. Remote signal jammers are used by criminals to prevent you from locking your car, allowing them quick and easy access to your vehicle and belongings inside. The physical key can be used to lock the car manually if it doesn’t lock, but this does not always activate the alarm. It is best to hide any personal items of value out of sight and park in a well-lit area if secure parking is not available.
  • Avoid stopping next to the road due to tyre failure. Stopping next to the road can be dangerous. Criminals use various tactics to force drivers to stop on the side of the road before attacking and robbing them. In some areas, criminals throw objects from bridges or place sharpened objects on roads.

This article first appeared on Rekord East and was republished with permission.

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