Tracker Report to June 2020 – How did lockdown impact on vehicle crime?

The annual SAPS crime statistics for the period April 2019 to March 2020 revealed an alarming increase (13%) in car hijackings – 18 162 cases that equates to 50 cars being stolen in South Africa every day. The just-released Tracker South Africa provides insight into how the various levels of lockdown impacted on these stats.

Recorded from Tracker’s more than 1.1 million installed vehicle base, the statistics reveal that before the unprecedented event of lockdown, the number of vehicle crime activities rose nationally by 11% year-on-year, driven mainly by hijacking with an increase of 21%. Theft of vehicles, meanwhile, remained at a similar level to the previous year.

Here are some of the insights from the vehicle crime statistics:

In April, the number of vehicle crime activities nationally declined to only 19% of the average monthly vehicle crime activities.
As the country’s restrictions were lifted vehicle crime activities increased, with May experiencing a three-fold increase to 62% of the average vehicle crime activities, while 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 is now prevalent throughout the week, from Tuesday to Saturday with only slightly less activity on Sundays and Mondays.
Hostage taking is still a daily occurrence and remains a huge concern.
There was 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.
Gauteng still experiences the most vehicle crime, with hijackings prevalent in Johannesburg. This is followed by KwaZulu-Natal with Durban in the top spot, and the Western Cape with hijackings mainly occurring in Mitchells Plain.

The curfew certainly had a positive (or negative, in a positive sense) impact on crime, but as restrictions are lifted, so the cockroaches and criminals resurface. Only time will tell what extent the foothold obtained by illegal traders in tobacco and alcohol products during “prohibition” will be erased when normal sales are allowed again. It is rather frightening to try and picture what the new “normal” in terms of vehicle and other crimes will look like, given the longer term impact of the pandemic and lockdown household incomes.

Click here to view an infographic that showcases the latest statistics.

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