Photo: YouTube
  • Tracker says instances of vehicle theft and hijacking among its clients increased six-fold in the first week of Level 4, compared to the start of the national lockdown period.
  • It expects vehicle crime to reach pre-lockdown levels, perhaps even as soon as this week.
  • According to police data, there were only 219 carjacking cases since 27 March to 22 April this year, compared to 1,146 during the same time last year.
  • For more articles, go to Business Insider's home page.

Vehicle theft and hijackings have increased as South Africa entered Level 4 of the lockdown, according to new numbers from Tracker, the vehicle tracking and stolen vehicle recovery group which covers 1.1 million vehicles in South Africa.

Tracker reported a six-fold increase in its vehicle recoveries in the first week of Level 4, which started on 1 May, compared to the first week of the national lockdown, which started on 27 March 27.

Still, vehicle crime remains around 35% lower than before the national lockdown started, in Tracker’s experience.

This was due to fewer vehicles on the road and a higher presence of law enforcement, says Ron Knott-Craig, executive of operational services at Tracker South Africa. He expects that vehicle crime may reach pre-Covid-19 levels as early as this week.

Before the lockdown, there was a 50/50 split between recoveries due to hijackings and theft. This changed in the first period of lockdown, with hijackings representing almost two-thirds of recoveries.

 “The slant towards hijackings during lockdown is most likely an opportunistic tactic with criminals preying on vehicles out in the open, while most other vehicles would have been securely locked away,” says Knott-Craig. “This returned to a more even split during the extended lockdown period where Tracker noticed an increase in vehicle movement with more citizens on the road as regulations were eased.

Tracker has also seen 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 instance’s large amounts of cash.

According to the police, there were only 219 carjacking cases since March 27 to April 22 this year, compared to 1,146 during the same time last year.

Murders were 72% lower during this time, while robbery with aggravating circumstances was at 2 022 cases, from 2019's 6 654 reported cases.

But on Tuesday, Minister of Police Bheki Cele admitted that since the country entered Level 4, criminality has been on the increase.

Receive a daily update on your cellphone with all our latest news: click here.

Get the best of our site emailed to you daily: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: