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Car crime surges with easing of restrictions

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The first week of Level 4 restrictions saw vehicle recovery activities increase sixfold from the first week of lockdown figures

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WHILE South Africa experienced a significant drop in vehicle crime during the start of the national lockdown, criminal activities are increasing as the country’s restrictions are being lifted.

This is according to Tracker data recorded from the company’s 1.1 million installed vehicle base that showed a 90% reduction in the number of vehicle recovery activities nationally during the first week of the lockdown, as compared with the average weekly vehicle recovery activities pre-lockdown. 

The company said the statistics were in line with a preliminary police report that noted a decline in three crimes – car and truck hijackings, business robberies and house robberies.

“However, vehicle crime activities are increasing as the country’s restrictions are being lifted. During the lockdown extension, the number of vehicle recovery activities increased nearly threefold compared with the first week of lockdown,” Tracker said.

“The first week of Level 4 restrictions has seen vehicle recovery activities more than double compared with the lockdown extension figures, representing a sixfold increase from the first week of lockdown to figures that are now only 35% lower than pre-lockdown averages. 

“Vehicle crime activities are set to rise even further, back to the same levels or even higher as South Africans return to work and criminals resume their operations.”

During the first three weeks of lockdown, hijackings attributed a higher percentage of vehicle recovery activities compared to theft. The 

pre-Covid-19 Tracker average for hijackings and theft was a 50/50% split. The initial lockdown period saw an average 63/37% split in the favour of hijackings.

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. 

“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,” Tracker said.