Risk prevention remains vital to avoid hijackings amid rising crime rates
15 Aug, 2023

Philippa Wild, Chief Underwriting Officer at Santam Broker Solutions


Vehicle theft and hijacking are on the rise in South Africa. According to South African crime statistics, 5,119 cars were hijacked in the country in the first quarter of 2023 (57 cars per day) with the numbers rising in the last month of the quarter. Alarmingly, at the end of 2022, vehicle hijackings were up by 30% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Philippa Wild, Chief Underwriting Officer at Santam says the numbers reported in the crime statistics are reflected in the insurer’s claims experience.


“At Santam, we have seen a significant rise in crime-related vehicle claims for both theft and hijacking over the past 18 months, particularly for high-value vehicles. We have also seen a trend in the theft of certain keyless vehicles through both hijacking and car jamming methods,” notes Wild.


She urges motorists to be extra vigilant and take every precaution to ensure their personal safety and avoid becoming victims of crime. The scourge of hijackings and theft is taking place across the country but is most prevalent in the large metropolitan areas of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western Cape.


“As vehicle technology advances, so do the techniques used by thieves to gain entry into targeted cars,” says Wild. “With the rise in popularity of keyless vehicles, criminals have adapted their car jamming methods. Often they work in pairs; where one criminal remains with the vehicle and the other follows the driver to intercept the radio wave signal sent from the keyless remote to the vehicle receiver unit,” she explains.


Wild offers motorists advice on how to stay safe and avoid becoming a target for criminals:


  • Always remain alert when stationary at traffic lights or stop streets and while parked waiting to enter or exit your driveway/gate, particularly at night.
  • Make sure you are not being followed and if you suspect you are, don’t drive to your house, and don’t stop the car, drive to a busy area or to the closest police station.
  • Make sure you have Smash and Grab anti-hijacking film on your car windows and keep your windows closed when stationary at traffic lights, etc.
  • Avoid known hijacking hotspots, find alternative, safer routes to travel.
  • Always park your car off-street in a secure area, ideally in a garage at night, and while out and about during the day it’s best to park in a highly visible area or in a paid undercover parking lot, where possible.
  • Use a signal-blocking case such as a Faraday pouch to store your key.
  • Do a manual check to see if your car doors are locked.
  • A good old-fashioned steering wheel lock is still a highly effective deterrent for thieves.
  • Install a tracking device in your car. Of course, this won’t keep it from getting stolen, but it can help with rapid recovery. But be sure to do your homework as there are many different types of devices, some have much better recovery rates than others.


“Prioritising personal safety by proactively managing your risk to prevent a theft or hijacking from occurring in the first place, is of the utmost importance in this heightened risk landscape,” concludes Wild.





@Philippa Wild
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