Car hijackers often follow their victims around for days or even weeks before striking, according to a computer security service, Pretoria East Rekord reports.
Sometimes such hijackers would rely on “informants”, people in the area or familiar with the victim.
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This was revealed in interviews Pro-Active SA managing director Ryno Schutte held with two ex-convicts who did time for car hijacking.
Schutte found that vehicles are also seldom randomly hijacked.
Instead, car theft syndicate bosses would send out a list of the type of vehicles they want for the week to their hijackers on the ground.
Victims were not chosen at random, but would be followed around waiting for an opportune time to strike during their daily routines.
One ex-hijacker said he was paid about R5 000 for each German luxury vehicle he hijacked. Syndicate bosses provided him with a firearm to commit the hijackings.
Hijackers would often supplement their incomes by selling whatever belongings (such as cellphones, laptops and jewellery) that were in the car at the time of the hijacking.
Vehicles were only randomly selected when a suitable vehicle was not found in time. In such a case another vehicle of the same make, but not necessarily same model or colour, would be hijacked.
He said sometimes vehicles were taken to chop shops because certain vehicles are worth more in parts.
He said a R500 000 car could be sold to a car dealer for as little as R7 000. However, dealers and bosses made more money by exporting the car to neighbouring countries.
The one ex-convict interviewee said he resorted to theft out of desperation because he couldn’t find a job after moving from rural Eastern Cape to Soweto.
He was soon sucked into the wrong crowd and started stealing vehicles to sustain himself.
The man claimed he was apprehended once or twice, which cost him only R200 for him to get off.
He said he felt sorry for his victims, but would continue because it was nothing personal.
“I’m just doing a job,” he told Schutte.
He had committed five hijackings by the time he was arrested and convicted.
The other ex-convict said he started stealing at the age of 16. At 19, he started hijacking vehicles, sometimes only for “joyrides”.
Asked how motorists could make sure they did not become hijacking victims, the men said motorists must be more aware of their surroundings.
They said nothing was more of a distraction to motorists than a cellphone.
Schutte advised motorists to always inform a loved one of their travel plans – where they were going and when they expected to be back.