In South Africa, the rising number of car owners can be directly attributed to the need for convenience and in some cases, luxury. Still, this rising number has attracted criminals, and over the years the nation has experienced a rapid increase in carjacking. According to reports, every 32 minutes, a vehicle is hijacked somewhere in South Africa – and this translates into a huge 46 cars hijacked every day.

Where is your Car Most Likely to Be Hijacked?

Drivers filling up their tanks at fuel stations are usually targeted by hijackers. These drivers are approached from their blind spot and forced out of their vehicle. And most often, it is quite difficult and dangerous for petrol attendants to interfere since most carjackers tend to be armed.

Vehicle owners in South Africa are also sometimes approached at social spots by strangers who befriend them, later spike their drinks, and then steal their keys and make off with their vehicles. Hijackers also pose as traffic officers or police officials and get vehicle owners to pull over. They often drive in unmarked vehicles and once drivers pull over, they are overpowered and their vehicles are hijacked.

Crime has become part of daily life in South Africa, with hijacked and stolen vehicles high on the list. South Africa, according to reports, loses an estimated R8.5 billion annually due to vehicle thefts and hijacking. These hijackers often go for popular vehicles which are easy to resell or use the parts in other vehicles. As a result, the most hijacked vehicles in South Africa are the Volkswagen Polo, Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger.

What Type of Vehicles are Most Likely to Be Hijacked?

In South Africa, have it in mind that you are far more likely to be carjacked in a hatchback or sedan than an SUV. Trucks and motorcycles are lower on the list of hijackers’ targets. According to reliable reports by police minister Bheki Cele last year, about 5,245 sedans or hatchbacks had been hijacked around the country between April 2019 and March 2020, with bakkies the second most hijacked type of vehicle at 2,200 cases, followed by taxis on 945 cases and trucks on 161 cases.

Also note that within the same period, 57 SUVs and 47 motorcycles were hijacked. The report also has it that carjacking increased to 18,162 cases in 2020 from 16,026 in 2019, a rise of 13.3 percent. Over a 10-year period, annual incidences of this crime have steadily increased from 10,541 to the present 18,162 cases.

Which City Has the Highest Carjacking Crime Rate?

Most carjacking over the past few years tend to happen in Gauteng with 9,025 cases, followed by KwaZulu-Natal (3,041), Western Cape (2,760), Eastern Cape (1,111), Mpumalanga (999), North West (493), Limpopo (458) and Free State (241). The Northern Cape remains the province with the least number of carjacking at 34 cases.

Meanwhile, motorists were more or less likely to be hijacked on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between 6pm and 9pm, and on a Friday or Saturday night between 9pm and midnight. The least likely times were between 3am and 6am on weekdays, and between 6am and 9am on weekends.

Although carjacking has grown exponentially, the theft of cars and motorcycles has experienced a downward trend over the last ten years, decreasing from 64,162 cases in 2010/2011 to the present 46,921 cases. Also note there was a 13.7% hike in incidences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs last year, from 82,912 to 94,273 cases, and a rise from 66,645 a decade ago.

5 Least Hijacked Cars in South Africa

Have it in mind that the theft rates of cars in South Africa are directly proportional to popularity. The South African Police Service as well as the insurance companies strive not to disclose accurate figures especially since the manufacturers of the most popular vehicles have much to lose in this event – and have probably resorted to legal process to keep the numbers confidential.

Howbeit, recent-to-new models tend to be frequently taken during robbery than stolen while unattended. Also have it in mind that even twenty year old models of popular vehicles are a higher risk than newer unpopular vehicles. Here is a list of the least hijacked cars in South Africa;

  1. Peugeot (308 model)
  2. Alfa Romeo (Giulietta)
  3. Volvo (V40)
  4. Mitsubishi (Outlander)
  5. Honda (Civic)
  6. Nissan Infiniti (Q50)
  7. Subaru (Outback)
  8. Toyota Lexus (IS)
  9. Citroen (C4 Picasso)

Risk Factors to Consider About Car Hijacking In South Africa

There are some questions you will need to ask and answer if you are looking to determine whether your existing car, or a new model you are considering, is at risk of hijacking or theft:

  1. Popularity of your car

Just like it was stated above, theft rates of cars in South Africa is directly proportional to popularity. Hijackers don’t want your car so that they can keep it. They either intend to sell the car as it is, or for parts, as soon as possible. Note that this makes more popular cars bigger targets.

  1. Security weak points

Have it in mind that carjackers are quick to catch on to security defects and exploit them. In April 2020, Ford owners across South Africa had their cars broken into or stolen en masse due to what seems to be particularly weak locks and other flaws in the built-in security system. Always ensure you are aware of any such issues before you buy.

  1. Can your car’s parts be used in other vehicles?

Also take your time to find out if your car parts can be used in taxis or other vehicles. Such cars are also targeted more frequently.

  1. Age

Remember that carjackers are always on the lookout for easy hijacking opportunity, and they often target older vehicles because chances are that these vehicles will not have a high quality immobiliser or other security features. If you drive an older car, beef up your security features.

Tips To Avoid Becoming a Hijack Victim in South Africa

  1. Always park in a secure area, with good lighting and preferably with a guard on duty.
  2. Have your keys ready, but out of sight, and only unlock your car when you’re close to it. Many Suzuki’s come with keyless entry which saves you from scrabbling around in your handbag in the dark.
  3. Pull up parallel to your gate as it opens or check to see if you have been followed from a shopping mall.
  4. Let people know in advance what time you’ll be arriving so that someone can open and close the gate for you.
  5. Keep your own driveway well lit and cut back any overgrown shrubs which could obstruct the view of your surroundings.
  6. Keep your valuables out of sight, preferably in the boot.
  7. Drive with your windows closed and doors locked.
  8. Stay vigilant. Be aware of your surroundings and watch your mirrors for any suspicious vehicles or pedestrians. Avoid distractions, like checking your phone at the robot, as this leaves you vulnerable.
  9. Don’t remain stationary if you don’t need to. Slow down when approaching a red robot at night, so it’s green by the time you reach the intersection.
  10. Keep a safe following distance (approximately one car length) and when stopped at a robot, allow yourself space to manoeuvre in case you need to make a quick getaway.
  11. If you feel like you’re being followed, drive straight to your nearest police station or a busy, well lit public area.
  12. Change your route regularly to avoid criminals being able to identify your routine.
  13. Don’t turn into your driveway if you believe you’re being followed.

Conclusion

While many other crimes have seen a significant decrease, cases of hijacking have steadily increased over the last few years. According to the statistics, incidences of hijacking are more likely to occur in and around townships and within the inner-city than in any other area. However, before you buy a new car, it might be wise to investigate where it features on the list of most hijacked vehicles and what you can do to reduce the risk.

Ajaero Tony Martins