Hostage-taking, hijacking a ­disturbing trend

August 10, 2020
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Hijacking is taking place any time of the day and on any day of the week, while hostage-taking has become a disturbing trend.

These were two of the shifts in crime noted in vehicle crime statistics in the latest Tracker Vehicle Crime Index, released by the vehicle tracking company this week.

Previous hijacking trends indicated that activations for hijacking took place largely on a Friday between 11am and 1pm, followed by 8pm to 8.30pm. Activated means that Tracker initiated recovery action.

On Wednesday, its latest figures from July 2019 to June 2020 indicated that during the level 5 lockdown, vehicle crime declined substantially. But as restrictions were lifted, this crime started to increase and by June was close to “usual levels at 93%”.

“Even with this drastic decrease in vehicle crime, hijacking was more prevalent than theft during lockdown.

“Hijacking attributed a higher percentage of vehicle crime activities when compared with 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.”

The report also highlighted that there had been a shift in the trend regarding day of the week and time when hijacking was reported.

“Hijacking is prevalent throughout the week from Tuesdays to Saturdays, with slightly less activity on Sundays and Mondays. Hijackings are also reported from 11am to midnight. Meanwhile theft is mainly reported around the weekend and during lunchtime.”

Ron Knott-Craig, executive of operational services at Tracker South Africa, said: “With the latest statistics indicating that hijacking can happen on any day of the week and at any time, it’s clear criminals are taking advantage of opportunistic situations and it’s therefore imperative to always remain vigilant.”

He said hostage-taking was still a daily occurrence “and remains a huge concern”, while further crime trends included a noticeable increase in vehicles targeted for their loads, particularly food items and fast-moving consumable goods.

Gauteng still experienced the most vehicle crime, with hijackings prevalent in Johannesburg. This was followed by KwaZulu-Natal, with Durban in top spot, and the Western Cape, with hijackings mainly occurring in Mitchells Plain.

Other hijacking hot spots included eMalahleni in Mpumalanga, Ibhayi in the Eastern Cape, Rustenburg in the North West, Burgersfort in Limpopo.

*Article appeared in The Independent on Saturday

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