Vehicle crime ramps up towards the end of the year

Business-owned vehicles remain at greater risk

Tracker’s vehicle crime statistics for the period July to December 2023 reveal an increase in the volume of vehicle crime during the last half of the year, with a peak in November during ‘silly season’ – namely, shopping events such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the festive season frenzy. Furthermore, a business-owned vehicle is 56% more likely to be subjected to vehicle crime than a personal vehicle.

The Tracker Vehicle Crime Index aggregates information from Tracker’s more than 1.1 million subscriptions. Tracker’s data indicates that at a national level, hijackings still dominate, accounting for 55% of all national vehicle crime incidents versus theft at 45%. However, while the theft ratio for personal vehicles is slightly higher at 52%, a business-owned vehicle has a far higher hijacking propensity at 64%. This means that a business-owned vehicle is almost twice as likely to be hijacked than stolen.

Gauteng is still the province that experiences the highest volume of vehicle crime with 61% of the total vehicle crime incidents, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 14% and the Western Cape at 9%. The same trend applies when examining business vehicle crime, with Gauteng at 56%, KwaZulu-Natal at 14% and the Western Cape at 13%.

While 55% of all nationwide hijackings occur in Gauteng due to vehicle volumes, the overall national hijacking propensity appears to be driven by all other provinces. Gauteng is the province with one of the lowest proportions of hijacking, at 48% in comparison to theft at a 52%.

Relative to Tracker’s subscriber count, the highest propensity toward business vehicle crime occurs in Gauteng, with 17% over-representation of Tracker’s business-owned vehicle base. This is followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 12% over-representation. KwaZulu-Natal shows a high incidence of business-owned vehicle hijackings relative to the business vehicle base, with a 64:36 hijacking to theft ratio.

Western Cape business vehicles are less likely to experience vehicle crime relative to Tracker’s business customer base, but business vehicle crime in the Western Cape is overwhelmingly skewed toward hijacking, accounting for 82% of incidents. This means that it is almost five times likelier for a business-owned vehicle to be hijacked than stolen in the Western Cape.

There is statistically lower business vehicle crime collectively for provinces other than Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. However, the crime that occurs in these regions is again skewed towards hijacking with a 63:37 hijacking versus theft ratio.

Nationwide, a higher proportion of vehicles are reported hijacked on Fridays, and between the hours of 4pm and 8pm. While theft is mainly reported on Saturdays, and between the hours of 11am and 3pm.

“Tracker's vehicle crime statistics parallel the South African Police Service (SAPS) crime data for 2023, reflecting a steady increase in vehicle crime from quarter one to quarter three,” says Duma Ngcobo, Chief Operating Officer at Tracker. “It is imperative to remain vigilant, especially during peak shopping periods. Your safety should always take precedence over material possessions.”

“Tracker urges fleet owners and companies to be better prepared for the heightened vehicle theft and hijacking levels during the year-end and other peak crime periods by ensuring well-maintained fleets and implementing robust fleet monitoring solutions. Additionally, prioritise driver safety through training on vehicle safety checks, emergency protocols, and hijack prevention strategies.”

Tracker’s efforts to combat vehicle crime has resulted in 124 419 vehicle recoveries, 20 838 arrests and 1 113 firearms recovered to date.