Data released by car security specialists Tracker for the year July 2019 to June 2020 reveals that there has been a significant drop in vehicle crime amid the nationwide lockdown. Hijackings, however, have increased in this period.

“Recorded from Tracker’s more than 1.1-million installed vehicle base, the statistics reveal that before the unprecedented event of lockdown, the number of vehicle crime activities rose nationally by 11% year-on-year, driven mainly by hijacking with an increase of 21%. Theft of vehicles, meanwhile, remained at a similar level to the previous year,” they explain.

By April 2020, once the lockdown came into effect, the number of vehicle crime activities nationally declined to only 19% of the average monthly vehicle crime activities. This then saw a three-fold increase to 62% in May as lockdown restrictions eased. By June, the number was close to usual levels at 93%.

As vehicle crime decreased, however, hijackings became even more prevalent than theft amid the lockdown.

“Hijacking attributed a higher percentage of the Tracker vehicle crime activities during lockdown when compared to theft, averaging a 56/44 split. This is an increase on the 50/50 split between hijacking and theft for the months before lockdown. It is a further increase on the previous year, which saw a 45/55 split in favour of theft. In addition, despite Level 3 lockdown June 2020 hijacking numbers reached the same level as June 2019.”

As such, lockdown seems to have done little to deter criminals.

The data also reveals a shift in trend of when hijackings are likely to occur. Hijackings are now prevalent throughout the week from Tuesday to Saturday, with only slightly less activity on Sundays and Mondays. They are generally reported throughout the day from 11am to midnight. Theft, however, is mainly reported around the weekend and lunchtime hours of 11am to 3pm.

“Further crime trends noted by Tracker include a noticeable increase in vehicles being targeted for their loads, particularly food items and fast-moving consumable goods. Clients are also being robbed of their valuables and in some instances large amounts of cash,” Tracker adds.

According to Tracker data, the provinces and towns most affected by vehicle crime remain the same as in previous years. Gauteng takes the top spot for the most reported vehicle crime with Johannesburg as a hotspot, followed by KwaZulu-Natal in second place and Durban as their hotspot. The Western Cape comes in third, with the majority of hijackings occurring in Mitchells Plain. Other hotspots in the province include Khayelitsha and Cape Town.

Tracker’s efforts to combat vehicle crime resulted in 5447 vehicle recoveries, 819 arrests and 39 firearms recovered for the twelve months from July 2019 to June 2020.

“With the latest statistics indicating that hijacking can happen on any day of the week and at any time, it is clear that criminals are taking advantage of opportunistic situations and it is therefore imperative to always remain vigilant,” says Ron Knott-Craig, Executive: Operational Services at Tracker South Africa.

“Make sure that your vehicle tracking device is in working order and make use of the features offered by your vehicle tracking service.”

Picture: Unsplash

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