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By Liam Ngobeni

Freelance journalist


Pretoria car thieves ‘going digital’, says car manufacturer

Digitisation has made criminals more sophisticated, who often operate in syndicates targeting specific areas at a time.


Car thieves are going digital and have become more sophisticated, according to experts.

National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (Naamsa) executive director Mike Mabasa told Radio 702’s Bongani Bingwa on Tuesday morning that motorists had complained that car thieves were “unlocking vehicles with dummy devices”, reports Pretoria East Rekord.

ALSO READ: 10 tips to help curb car theft and car break-ins

He said vehicle theft and hijacking continued to be major challenges, and “we have been engaging quite extensively not only as manufacturers, but with other stakeholders, particularly the police, insurance companies and other key stakeholders, so that we can be able to see how we keep up with innovation in our automotive space”.

Mabasa said digitisation was growing, and criminals had also become very sophisticated.

“There are a lot of scams in the market, and the one that callers are complaining about is one of many by criminals that we are aware of as the association.

“We are interacting with manufacturers to be able to make sure that they are a position to continue to strengthen and update the current systems in the automotive space.”

He said it was difficult to discern which vehicles were in the thieves’ cross-hairs, as they sometimes targeted specific areas.

“This also depends on areas. We know, for example, that in Mamelodi, Tshwane, Volkswagen vehicles are targeted, so it is widespread in the market.

“We also see that it is a syndicate operation in many instances. These are not your ordinary thieves. These are people who are sophisticated, who understand how vehicles operate and many of whom have inside information from some of the data sitting on tracking devices and they know how some of those devices operate.”

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