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Shocking statistics reveal things are getting worse

26 July 2018 Myra Knoesen
Cloud Saungweme, Chief Claims Officer at Bryte

Cloud Saungweme, Chief Claims Officer at Bryte

Myra Knoesen, FAnews Journalist

Myra Knoesen, FAnews Journalist

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. Bryte Insurance released its Q4 2017 Crime Tracker; an indicator of long term crime trends in South Africa as captured by insurance claims for the period October to December 2017. The Q4 2017 Bryte Crime Tracker measures the annual change, on a quarterly basis, in crime-related claims (due to hijacking, robbery, theft and malicious damage) committed against South African businesses.

It is all in the statistics

Interestingly, for the period October to December 2017, the Q4 2017 Bryte Crime Tracker shows an increase in total incidents of crime impacting businesses when compared to the same period in 2016. The overall level of crime contracted to 0.22% year-on-year during October to December 2017, which is comparatively higher than the 10.28% year-on-year contraction recorded during the same period in 2016. When analysing customer claims data over the two-year period, businesses crime levels were at their highest in Q4 2017. 

From a business perspective, the motor and property sectors remain amongst the most affected; the theft of electronics and other equipment from buildings as well as the robbery of goods in transit is also a prevalent trend. 

Incidents of theft continued to fall albeit at a much slower rate. A 1.5% contraction was noted in Q4 2017 versus 10.5% in Q4 2016. Theft of vehicles, which is the leading contributor to these figures, is often committed by opportunistic thieves such as unemployed individuals rather than syndicates. With a 6.7% contraction recorded in Q4 2017 versus the 7% growth documented in Q4 2016, significant progress has been noted when it comes to contact crimes. However, vehicle hijackings continue to account for the majority of incidents reported. 

Incidents of malicious damage grew considerably; the Q4 2017 Bryte Crime Tracker noted an increase to 18.4% versus a contraction to 23.7% during the same period in 2016. This is the largest spike observed over the two-year period reviewed. A significant percentage of the malicious damage incidents stem from damage to property in the act of theft as burglars often wreck security features such as gates, fences and alarm systems to obtain goods and equipment. 

Industry insight into the matter

FAnews spoke to Cloud Saungweme, Chief Claims Officer at Bryte about the stats and if they really do reflect the full reality of what is happening in our country. 

“Unfortunately, persistent socio-economic challenges continue to impact crime levels but what we also noted was a rise in seasonal, opportunistic crime as the year came to a close. While historically, the perception is that crime spikes during December and January, our data shows notably high levels of crime as early as October which could be indicative of criminals attempting to obtain extra cash for the festive season,” said Saungweme. 

“The crimes committed are being planned more elaborately with high value incidents primarily being perpetrated by syndicates,” says Saungweme. 

“Generally, vehicles that are under five years old are the most sought after and with the market for stolen vehicles in the SADC region rapidly growing, four-wheel drive vehicles are particularly targeted to navigate the poor road infrastructure across the region. Toyota’s are also prominent on the list of most stolen vehicles as the engines may be used in minibus taxis,” adds Saungweme. 

“Vehicle tracking devices, alarms, telematics and other anti-theft features are critical to lowering the rate of theft but equally, collaboration amongst insurers can be key to combatting such losses. The Insurance Crime Bureau (ICB), estimates that 30% of vehicles stolen make their way to SADC regions and is doing a fantastic job of assessing and flagging such crime trends. Additionally, the ICB works closely with the government to monitor border posts in an effort to recover stolen vehicles, benefiting consumers, insurers and the economy at large.” 

The reality of it all

“Crime, especially violent crime, continues to be a widespread social challenge debilitating everyday South Africans, businesses and government. Extreme poverty, high levels of unemployment - currently sitting at 26.7% - and the overall, rising cost of living which has been exacerbated by the VAT and fuel price increases, are all aggravating the situation. Where there is perceived lack of opportunities to sustain livelihoods, many turn to crime as a means to provide for themselves and their families. Thus, we continue to note a rise in opportunistic crime (burglaries and theft) and organised crime - crimes perpetrated, such as jewellery store robberies, CIT van heists and ransomware attacks intricately planned and executed on a more elaborate scale,” he says. 

“The unfortunate reality is that for many, crime has become a profession. The modus operandi of criminals is changing due to advancing technology, more robust security systems and heightened vigilance. In terms of protecting customers, insurers must stay abreast of the types of crimes perpetrated and the methods employed to ensure that customers have a comprehensive understanding of such trends and maintain awareness. Insurers must also proactively engage customers on risk mitigation measures that help safeguard themselves and their possessions. Our Bryte Crime Tracker is one example of the many initiatives we undertake to proactively educate customers. Equally, a key priority should be ensuring that the insurance solutions presented are tailored to their unique exposures,” continues Saungweme. 

“Looking at the sustainability of the insurance industry, insurance fraud by means of exaggeration or non-disclosure is also a key factor to be cognisant of. Insurers must ensure that efficient mechanisms or procedures are in place to verify the accuracy of information supplied by customers for claims. As the desperation for cash-on-hand increases so too does the probability of fraud, which may include activities such as faking a theft, accident, property fire, death, etc,” he says. 

“Law enforcement agencies, civil society and businesses have been very proactive in addressing factors that contribute towards crime. Government’s considered efforts to combat crime at every level and driving greater stability and management within the criminal justice systems – are all initiatives that must be applauded and supported. Organisations such as Business Against Crime South Africa, Corruption Watch and ICB are good examples of collaborations that are truly making a difference and empowering citizens and businesses with the information and tools needed to safeguard themselves against crime,” concluded Saungweme.

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


Added by old timer, 26 Jul 2018
If you look at Clem Sunter's future population projections, crime and unemployment can only worsen as population growth continues to outstrip GDP growth and job creation.
It's a sad fact that if we continue on this present trend that a future Zimbabwe in South Africa is the only outcome.
The Titanic has hit the ice berg and now it's a matter of time before it sinks.
Even sadder is the fact that this economic disaster could be avoided with effective government intervention, but with anti business investment policies such as The Mining Charter, and Land Expropriation it becomes increasingly unlikely.
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