New Vehicle Crime Stats: How At Risk Are You?

The annual crime statistics released by the South African Police Services in 2018 paints a grim picture of not only murder but also car-related crimes in South Africa. We broke down the stats.
Liezel Wakens
2018-09-19

The South African Police Services released its annual crimes stats for the 2017/18 period, amid reports by the fact-checking website, Africa Check, that there was a calculation error that completely skewed crime rates.

This should not come as a surprise as SAPS have proven, time after time, that they are somewhat incompetent. Minister of Police Bheki Cele came full throttle to parliament and, as always, put the blame on someone else; this time around his predecessor Fikile Mbalula.

An example of the leadership laxity was the fact that the security cluster, in which the police services played a key part, had not met for two years when he took over the portfolio.
 

I don’t want to ask who dropped the ball. We must pick up the ball. For me, that is the most important thing," Cele said after presenting the stats in parliament last week.

Okay, Minister, we believe you.

Let’s have a look at the stats, shall we?
 

Vehicle Crime Stats In South Africa

Below are stats for car and truck hijackings as well as theft of motor vehicles, drunk driving and cash-in-transit heists in South Africa.
 

The overall crime statistics for vehicle crimes reveals a major concern for motorists in South Africa. Even though there has been a significant decrease in some areas, such as carjacking and car theft; there was a significant increase in truck jacking, cash-in-transit, and incidents of driving under the influence of substances.

Let's break down the numbers for each in the various provinces.
 

According to the statistics, in 2017/18, a total of 16,325 car were hijacked. This was a slight decrease from the 2016/17 figure of 16,717 carjacking incidents in South Africa.

On average, 45 cars were hijacked each day in 2017/18.

Being the most populous province in the country, it comes as no real surprise that most incidents took place in Gauteng. Booysens was Gauteng’s hotspot with a total of 198 reported cases, while Nyanga in the Western Cape saw 276 carjacking cases. Delft trailed right behind with 175 reported cases.
 

After murder, car theft was the crime most reported to the police with vehicle related crime accounting for about 14.7% of all household crime.

In 2017/18, 50,663 cars or motorcycles were stolen in South Africa with an average of 139 stolen each day.
 

There was a significant 6.5% decrease in crimes related to theft out of or from motor vehicles; the biggest drop was seen in Gauteng.

This decrease in stats could be attributed to better car security such as alarms and tracking systems. Drivers are also becoming more vigilant.
 

Truck jacking saw a 1.6% increase from 2017 with a total of 1202 cases in 2017/18 compared to 1183 cases the year before.

Gauteng led the pack with 708 cases. The areas most affected by truck jackings were Heidelberg (43) followed by Alberton(34), and Bedfordview with 21 reported cases.
 

SAPS reported 86 160 cases of motorists driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, an increase of 14.8% (2015/16). It seems like some people are still oblivious to the fact that drunk-driving kills.

Drunk driving still remains the biggest violation in the Johannesburg metropole with Dobsonville (814), Diepkloof (865), and Germiston (733) recording the highest number of DUI’s.
 

What About Cash-In Transit Heists?

Cash-in-transit crimes, which have grabbed headlines over the past few months, have also recorded a sharp increase, climbing 57% to 238 cases recorded in the past year (from 152 cases previously).  

Anneliese Burgess, the author of the book Heist had the following comment about the spike in cash-in-transit incidents.
 

CIT crimes have become increasingly easy, lucrative and low-risk over the last year because criminals have no fear of being caught, prosecuted and sent to prison.The lure of making huge amounts of money and the laxity and corruption by police has aided criminals in executing these brazen cash-in-transit heists. CIT crimes are usually well planned with criminals who can drive ramming vehicles and specialists who know how to shoot.

How Do You Avoid Becoming A Statistic?

Regardless of the improved crime rate, crime still affects everyone in all types of neighborhoods, crossing all economic and racial lines. Rather than becoming complacent, you need to take charge of your own safety. Here are a few ideas how:

  • Stash Your Valuables

Visible items, such as laptops or wallets, or even just some loose change in your car, are a great temptation for someone to break in. Once they’re inside, it is easy to simply drive away with the car.

  • Park In Well-Lit, Visible Areas

Car thieves perform better without an audience, so avoid parking in dark alleyways or other hidden spaces. For extra security, try to park close to building entrances or parking lot cameras.

  • Lock It Up And Shut It Down

Avoid leaving your windows open or car doors unlocked, even in your own driveway and never leave your running car unattended.

It might be tempting to start your car and leave it to warm up on a chilly winter morning, but a running car with an unlocked door and no driver in sight could be pretty irresistible to a thief.

  • Hide Your Car Keys

While it might seem like a good idea to keep your car keys on a hook by the front door, it’s also the first place a thief will think to look for them.

Whether someone breaks into your house or just opens your unlocked front door, they’ll be thrilled to see a shiny set of car keys just waiting to be taken.

  • Sound The Alarm

If your car doesn’t come with a built-in alarm system, consider having one installed. Don’t forget to put a sticker on your windshield to let thieves know an alarm is in place as a deterrent.

  • Create A Physical Barrier

Consider enhancing your vehicle’s security by using a physical anti-theft device like a tracking system. Not only will it make the thief’s job a lot harder, but the sticker warning could deter them before they even get started.

  • Put Your Cell Phone Away

Much like blaring music, cell phones are a distraction on the road and pose a huge risk for a smash and grab incident, put them away!