Risk prevention vital to avoid hijackings amid rising crime rates

3 min read 14 August 2023

Vehicle theft and hijacking are on the rise in South Africa. According to South African crime statistics, 5,119 cars were hijacked in the country in the first quarter of 2023 (57 cars per day) with the numbers rising in the last month of the quarter. Alarmingly, at the end of 2022, vehicle hijackings were up by 30% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Philippa Wild, Chief Underwriting Officer at Santam says the numbers reported in the crime statistics are reflected in the insurer’s claims experience.

“At Santam, we have seen a significant rise in crime-related vehicle claims for both theft and hijacking over the past 18 months, particularly for high-value vehicles. We have also seen a trend in the theft of certain keyless vehicles through both hijacking and car jamming methods,” notes Wild.

She urges motorists to be extra vigilant and take every precaution to ensure their personal safety and avoid becoming victims of crime. The scourge of hijackings and theft is taking place across the country but is most prevalent in the large metropolitan areas of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western Cape.

“As vehicle technology advances, so do the techniques used by thieves to gain entry into targeted cars,” says Wild. “With the rise in popularity of keyless vehicles, criminals have adapted their car jamming methods. Often they work in pairs; where one criminal remains with the vehicle and the other follows the driver to intercept the radio wave signal sent from the keyless remote to the vehicle receiver unit,” she explains.

Wild offers motorists advice on how to stay safe and avoid becoming a target for criminals:

“Prioritising personal safety by proactively managing your risk to prevent a theft or hijacking from occurring in the first place, is of the utmost importance in this heightened risk landscape,” concludes Wild.