No one wants their car or motorbike stolen or vandalised, or their possessions stolen from their vehicle. Still less do they want to be hijacked.
The 2015/16 police statistics show that even though vehicle theft decreased 2.3% in that reporting year, 53 809 cars and motorcycles were stolen. That means 147.4 cars or motorbikes a day. Fifty percent of these crimes occurred in Gauteng.
It’s clear that vehicle thieves are still hard at work. Worse, the incidence of hijackings is up in the 2015/16 reporting year – on average 40 cars were hijacked a day, an increase of 14.3% from 2014/15.
Statistics South Africa’s Victims of Crime Survey 2014/15 reveals that many of these vehicle crimes happen at or around the home, a reminder that home security is critical.
The survey shows most vehicles are stolen at home (58.7%), and most theft from a car also takes place at home (66.5%). The survey also reveals 50% of vehicle theft incidents and 49% of theft from a vehicle took place at night, with 30.3% and 25.2% respectively happening in the morning.
Here are some tips from Yale Security and ADT to keep you and your car safe at home:
- Everyone’s busy and preoccupied, but when you leave work, the shops or gym, especially if it is late and you are alone or almost alone, keep your keys ready and your eyes peeled. Watch out for anyone following you to your car, or following you home
- If you are followed, find somewhere safe to go to instead of going home and risk being hijacked, or forced into your house by robbers. Don’t ignore your gut feelings
- As you approach your home make sure you are not distracted by loud music. Be on the lookout for people waiting around
- Make sure your driveway doesn’t present handy hiding places such as large bushes or dustbins
- While you wait for electric gates to open, keep your car in reverse in case you are attacked. Your attackers will likely not expect you to reverse, and you might be able to escape
- At home, just as when out and about, remove expensive items such as iPods, laptops and GPS systems from your car. Do the same with motorbike panniers
- If you really have to keep valuables in your car or motorbike – perhaps stopping at a shop on your way home – lock them in your boot or panniers. Be aware that SUVs and hatchbacks can be a greater risk because they do not have a separate, lockable boot
- A locked garage is a great deterrent. If you have one, always use it. Cover windows, or cover your motorcycle when it is inside the garage. Research shows thieves need two to three minutes to steal a car, and less time to take your belongings from one
- Don’t only use your garage at night, leaving your car or motorbike outside in the day for thieves to see. Research shows many thieves and robbers spend time researching a home before they hit it
- Motorbike owners: padlocks, chains and alarms are good security, and you should use them all – it’s layers of security that are important. However, padlocks and chains are only as good as whatever you attach them to, so watch for any loose fittings against walls, and make sure your padlocks are the correct strength, and that they are designed for outside use
- Car owners: armoured and tinted glass can make a big difference – tinted glass because it is more difficult to see what is in the vehicle, armoured glass because it is tougher to break. You can get both in one product
- When you park your car, even at home, always make sure it is really locked. Thieves can use devices that jam the radio waves your immobiliser uses to lock the car and either take your valuables or your car. The same goes for any motorbike’s anti-theft devices
- Install anti-theft devices and vehicle trackers, and keep your vehicle’s details handy in case of theft or robbery – you will be able to quickly inform security companies and the police of your vehicle’s details
- Install closed-circuit television on the perimeter of your home, especially ones with infra-red capabilities to track movement at night. The Yale security company points out that there is a perception that CCTV systems are expensive, but says prices have reduced over recent years. They provide a deterrent, evidence when something is taken, and their remote view capabilities improve your overall security
Be safe, don’t lose your pride and joy.