Car theft levels remained constant in 2019/20, but hijackings soared

By: Naked

A South African car owner’s probability of falling victim to car theft or hijacking is about 1 in 121, or 0.826%, according to the 2019/2020 crime statistics from the South African Police Service (SAPS). This number has barely changed from 2018/9, when the probability of being a victim of car theft or hijacking was 1 in 120.7 or 0.827%.

That’s according to an analysis from AI-driven car insurance provider, Naked, which overlays the eNatis database of registered vehicles (cars and motorcycles) on crime statistics. But alarmingly, the number of hijackings has grown sharply (up 13.3%), while car thefts fell by 2.9%.

This is consistent with the trend in recent years, reflecting how improved technology that makes it harder to steal new car models is lowering the probability of theft. This trend can be expected to continue as older cars are taken off the roads and newer models with better anti-theft technology form a bigger part of the fleet.

Ernest North, co-founder at Naked, says that vehicle hijackings increased steeply in Gauteng (16%), Kwa-Zulu Natal (10%) and the Western Cape (20%). The number of hijacking cases nationwide climbed from 16,026 to 18,162. In practice, the probability of car thefts and hijackings could be higher than the numbers indicate, since not all incidents are reported to the police, and because some registered vehicles are seldom or never used.

“The SAPS statistics reflect the 12-month period ending 31 March 2020. One silver lining of the national COVID-19 lockdown is that next year’s car theft and hijacking numbers may show a marked decrease,” adds North. Relative to pre-lockdown numbers, Naked Insurance’s data reflects close to 80% reduction in monthly claims for stolen/hijacked vehicles since the lockdown started.

This vindicates Naked’s decision to allow clients to pay just roughly 10% of the normal comprehensive premium until end September 2020 when they enable CoverPause. Naked usually offers a premium saving of up to 50% for the days that customers ‘pause’ their accident cover from the Naked app. They remain covered for theft, mother nature and similar risks to a stationary vehicle while CoverPause is active.

“It is worrying to see a rise carjacking and the threat remains high,” says North. “Looking at the crime statistics by province, area, vehicle make and time of day can help you to make appropriate decisions to mitigate the risks of being a victim of a carjacking or vehicle theft. With the economy slowly opening up and criminal activity inevitably increasing, drivers should remain vigilant.”


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