The latest South African crime statistics recently released, show an increase in hijackings across the country. It reports a slight reduction countrywide in theft of motor vehicles. Tracking companies report that criminals are using sophisticated technology to adapt to new technologies, using programmers to counteract cars with keyless entry or emergency start capabilities, such as luxury SUVs.

Tarina Vlok, MD of Elite Risk Acceptances, a specialist high-net-worth insurer and subsidiary of Old Mutual Insure, says that the company is not necessarily seeing the same trend.

“We have not yet seen a marked increase in hijackings on the Elite book, with only two registered for 2022 year to date. However, we have seen a marked increase in vehicle thefts, with the majority target being Toyota luxury vehicles and other late model vehicles; a picture that is reflected in the crime statistics,” says Vlok.

The recent report highlights a 7.7% increase in Pretoria, 49% increase in Honeydew, 33.3% increase in Krugersdorp, and a shocking 63.5% increase in Boksburg North. There are other areas in the greater Gauteng region that also reported a huge increase in motor vehicle thefts.

“This is reflected in our 2022 claims statistics. Our specialist investigation unit is working with select manufacturers to find long-term solutions to the problem, but at the moment we can only combat these trends through rating and underwriting,” says Vlok, adding that if vehicle theft increases in specific areas, it may be likely that more insurers may in time require the installation of protective and anti-theft devices in such areas, or with specific vehicle makes that are frequently targeted.

Similarly, Old Mutual Insure is also reporting an alarming spike in the theft of vehicles.

“Our Stolen and Recovered Vehicles unit has reported over 400 high-end vehicles stolen in 2022 alone,” says Lizo Mnguni, spokesperson for Old Mutual Insure. “A major concern for us is on the keyless entry vehicles, as syndicates operate using relay devices to gain entry to a vehicle and use the keyless start functionality.”

Last year, news reports suggested that syndicates target new high-end vehicles such as the Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, and Fortuner, with the Toyota GD6 range being of particular interest to criminals.

“This is supported by the findings from our investigating units and business partners, with many of these stolen vehicles being moved across the border before they can be recovered,” says Vlok. “Another trend we see is that these vehicles are typically stolen from shopping malls, schools or religious events.”

Vlok says that motor insurance for South Africa’s affluent is critical, given the increase in thefts.

“If your high-end, custom spec car has any electronic special features or additional security systems, it is necessary to take precautions so that you don’t become an easy target for criminal syndicates,” says Vlok.

Below are Vlok’s top tips:

  • Make sure that all your additional security features are specified against the vehicle to ensure that you are not left out of pocket in the event of a total loss.
  • Strongly consider the installation of security tracking solutions. Technology has significantly improved, and these devices do not necessarily have to interfere with vehicle electronics or battery health.
  • Always be vigilant and aware of your environment.
  • Check that your vehicle is locked after you locked it with your remote locking device.
  • If your vehicle was stolen, give the investigators your full cooperation. We know this is a traumatic experience. Rely on them to assist you.
  • Your own safety and that of your family is the most important thing. Never compromise that for an item that is covered by insurance.