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Crime stats… silent profit of doom?

09 November 2017Myra Knoesen
Cloud Saungweme, Chief Claims Officer at Bryte Insurance

Cloud Saungweme, Chief Claims Officer at Bryte Insurance

Garth de Klerk, Chief Executive Officer at the Insurance Crime Bureau

Garth de Klerk, Chief Executive Officer at the Insurance Crime Bureau

The South African Police Service (SAPS) released its crime statistics, covering the period between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2017, and it shows crime has increased but also decreased.

In summary, according to an article on The South African, approximately 2.1 million serious crime counts were recorded, of which 1 738 980 were community-reported serious crimes.

In this time period, 19 016 murder cases were reported, which is the highest in ten years.

Murder is up by 1.8% and attempted murder up 0.4%. Robbery with aggravating circumstances increased by 6.4% – also the highest it has been in a decade and cash in transit robberies increased by 10.9%. Hijackings have increased by 14.5%. Robbery at residential premises is also at its highest in 10 years with 22 343 reported cases, an increase of 7.3% this year.

It is all in the statistics

Interestingly, for the period April to June 2017, the Q2 2017 Bryte Crime Tracker shows some decreases in crime. The Bryte Crime Tracker reflects a 7.7% year-on-year contraction in Q2 2017 when compared to a 2.7% year-on-year contraction recorded in Q2 2016. The decrease in crimes against business is a positive indicator that preventative measures are being increasingly adopted by businesses. 

Evidence suggests that the same crime syndicates target both businesses and homes. The modus operandi involves tracking employee movements and bypassing security features such as alarm systems, cameras and even security guards to gain access to property. 

Of the three defined categories, contact crime, malicious damage and theft, theft-related claims continue to dominate. The theft category decelerated to a 7.1% annual contraction in Q2 2017 from 1.3% in Q2 2016 reflecting a decrease in the incidents of theft. 

The Bryte Crime Tracker for contact crime (robberies and hijackings) contracted to 1.7% year on year in Q2 2017 from an 18.1% contraction in Q2 2016. While this marks an increase from the same period last year, a continued decline is however reflected in the incidents of contact crimes over the past two quarters. 

The rate of contraction in the malicious damage (to fixed and movable assets) category increased to 20.7% in Q2 2017 from 5.7% in Q2 2016. Interestingly, however, the victims of Crime Survey 2016/17 report noted a 15% increase in the number of incidents relating to deliberate damage to homes. For businesses, damage owing to protest action remains a concern; data from SASRIA revealed that claims from three protest action-related events, alone, led to damages in excess of R3 million. 

“The cost of crime in South Africa is very difficult to determine, however, there is no doubt the losses are in excess of hundreds of billions of Rands. The wide-reaching impact is felt across consumers, businesses and the economy, impacting the country’s global competitiveness,” says Cloud Saungweme, Chief Claims Officer at Bryte Insurance. 

Vehicle crime on the rise

“Looking at motor vehicles, specifically, what has been interesting to note is a marked increase in requests for insurance. This trend shows progress especially when one considers that the recent Victims of Crime Survey 2016/17 report revealed that motor vehicle hijackings increased by 93% in a 12-month period. The SAPS crime stats report adds to this stating that on average 46 cars were hijacked per day in the 2016/17 period analysed,” says Saungweme. 

“The increase in carjacking has been indicated as the worst over the past 12 years with the lowest being 9 417 in 2011/2012. There has been a steady increase of 14% year on year to date since 2012/2013. The total increase since 2011/2012 is a staggering 77.5%. We once again saw a 14.48% increase in carjacking over the past financial year. Though there has been a decrease in theft of motor vehicle / motorcycle, vehicle crime in general has increased drastically and vehicle owners are at a greater risk,” says Ryno Schutte, Managing Director at Pro-Active SA. 

“The decrease of a mere 0.93% (502) incidents in theft of motor vehicle and motorcycle does not justify the increase of 14.48% (2 115) in carjacking which places the community at greater risk due to firearms being used in these forms of crime,” continues Schutte. 

Industry insight into the matter

FAnews spoke to Garth de Klerk, Chief Executive Officer at the Insurance Crime Bureau and Saungweme about the stats and if they really do reflect the full reality of what is happening in our country. 

Both De Klerk and Saungweme agree that while the national crime statistics available provide a valuable view of criminal activity in South Africa, it does not paint the full picture as a significant percentage of crimes are not reported. 

“I believe that some progress has been made however; South Africans can certainly do better to significantly reduce instances of crime. The reality is that every citizen and every business should be actively involved in making South Africa a safer place,” said Saungweme. 

“We are a member of The Insurance Crime Bureau and work collaboratively on crime-related matters. As an industry, we can definitely do more and when you consider that insurers have a wealth of claims-related data, using these insights to develop awareness is a must. Additionally, our industry can play a much larger role by partnering with stakeholders to develop a more comprehensive view of crime patterns in the country,” concluded Saungweme 

“Moving forward the problem requires effective Private Public Partnerships as requested by both the Minister of Police and the Acting National Commissioner. We need to look for every opportunity to make a difference together. The short term insurance industry is heavily invested in a centralised approach to combat crime, it is now time that other insurance industries join them. Fighting crime in South Africa is not a commercial endeavour; it is a calling which needs to be strategically implemented to be properly effective,” concluded de Klerk.

Based on the statistics by the SAPS, Pro-Active SA released images (see below)

Editor’s Thoughts:
It is commendable that the underpinned key message to combat crime is in collaboration and cooperation because collaboratively, we can drive real change. Do you believe crime in SA could be minimised as a result of collaborative efforts or does something else need to happen in order for us to really see the change? Please comment below, interact with us on Twitter at @fanews_online or email me your thoughts myra@fanews.co.za

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