Vehicle tracking should top shopping lists

17 January 2018 John Edmeston, Jerry Pierce, Cartrack & Hugo van Zyl, SAICB

We live in a world that is filled with uncertainties and when you live in South Africa increased crime levels is a reality like nothing else. Looking past the violent crimes such as murder and rape, and just focusing on vehicle crime alone, it is evident that we as South Africans are not as safe on the roads as we once were.

Criminals have their own shopping lists when it comes to vehicles, as there is a high demand for specific vehicles. Because of this, vehicle tracking should top your client’s shopping list.

With the above mentioned, the public is still reeling from a number of hijackings that have been, and continue to be perpetrated by criminals who are posing as policemen, using police branded vehicles. Even more concerning is the information regarding the number of vehicles crossing the borders after thefts and hijackings.

Combating criminal activity

According to Hugo van Zyl, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the South African Insurance Crime Bureau (SAICB), vehicles which are being transported over the border are mostly top of the line Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV) and four wheel drive vehicles.

Van Zyl reports that 35% of the vehicles stolen in South Africa every year go over the border. This means that as many as 20 400 vehicles are making their way into Africa to countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi and many more. He says that one do have to look at the market in the neighbouring countries and need to understand what is the need for stolen vehicles, such as inter alia new roads which are being built, construction work, so called vehicle rental companies and vehicles that are stolen on order – for whatever other reason.

Jerry Pierce, Operations Manager at Cartrack says, “Some vehicles are stripped for spare parts, others are taken across the border into neighbouring countries, while a further significant number of hijacked vehicles are simply relicensed with the aid of corrupt officials and put back on our roads. As long as there is a demand for vehicles on the black market and as long as corrupt officials are fuelling the illegal trade in stolen vehicles, I do not foresee the crime of hijacking decreasing
significantly in our country.”

Hijacked vehicles which make their way across the South African border into neighboring countries are often targeted for the illegal spares trade, while trucks are targeted for their loads as well as the demand for commercial vehicles in neighboring countries. “The fact that you can wait for eight or nine months for the delivery of a legitimate vehicle in neighbouring states further exacerbates the matter. Vehicles have even been recovered as far away as Mombasa, Kenya, which makes hijacking a crime that is affecting the entire continent,” says Pierce.

The intelligence element

John Edmeston, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cartrack, points out that there is an increasing element of intelligent criminals who are targeting specific road users, by using specific methods during their hijackings. Criminals are getting smarter; they know what they want and they know how to get it.

“Crime statistics released by the South African Police Service (SAPS) recently, indicated that vehicle theft has declined slightly and that hijackings are on the rise. However, these are lower than the stats many years ago and it has to be said that the tracking industry contributed to these improved stats over a period of time,” says Edmeston.

The fact that criminals are extending their crimes from armed robberies and violent assaults, to driveway, home and business hijackings is a frightening and increasing trend. “Criminals are no longer satisfied with merely taking vehicles, but are now actively targeting and assaulting their victims at home or at work, which represents an aggressive and violent invasion of a person’s personal space. Traumatised victims grapple to reclaim a space in which they once felt secure, as it seems that nothing is beyond the reach of violent criminals anymore,” explains Pierce.

The role of brokers

Comments from companies involved with tracking have clearly showed that they value what brokers bring to the table and that brokers play an important role in their business model. These companies have highlighted the need for tracking devices and the potential economic impact clients will have to face if their cars are stolen.

The importance of brokers in this industry will undoubtedly grow as more information regarding vehicle theft in the industry is released. However, the lack of information regarding the true levels of crime in the industry is concerning and should be addressed as a matter of urgency as clients can benefit significantly from knowing the true state of the industry. Tracking and telematic systems will increasingly be seen as crucial products to have.

Quick Polls


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