A staggering R8.5-billion worth of vehicles are stolen and hijacked in South Africa annually, 30% of which are taken across the border to neighbouring countries where syndicates are making huge profits and South Africans are footing the bill.
In a recent presentation to business leaders, Hugo van Zyl, CEO of the South African Insurance Crime Bureau (SAICB), spelled out the reality of the situation. He pulled no punches, identifying leaders of some of South Africa’s largest companies in a call to action. He provided alarming insights into the evolving mechanisms related to vehicle crime and corruption and the financial impact these have on the country.
Van Zyl cited trends on the rise being the hijacking of trucks, ‘yellow metal’ vehicles, trailers and cargo, accident staging and false documentation sophistication. Leading vehicle safety intelligence company, Tracker, corroborates this.
“Truck fleets are targeted due to the potential multiplier effect their cargo offers to syndicates. Criminals often know exactly what cargo is being transported, as well as the approximate value,” says Michael van Wyngaardt, executive for Tracker Business.
According to SAPS statistics, truck hijackings steadily decreased by 8.6% per annum over a four-year period ending February 2012. Since then there has been a significant spike.
Van Zyl identified that “cross-border syndicates are a growing concern thanks to our porous borders and the fact that crime prevention stakeholders aren’t yet pooling resources effectively. Data sharing is the key.” His was an impassioned appeal for business and crime prevention unity. “If we stand together now, we will win.”
Of the R8.5-billion vehicles stolen, R4.9-billion’s worth are taken across the border; R3.1-billion stay in South Africa as cloned vehicles and R514-million end up in chop shops across the country.
To make matters worse, last year approximately 39 000 vehicles re-appeared into the system, costing a fortune for the insurance industry to pay out claims where they were unaware that these vehicles were in fact cloned. When you insure a cloned vehicle, insurance companies don’t have to pay out because the incorrect vehicle is reflected on the books.
By the same token, Van Zyl also shared the positives – the increased involvement from SAPS, SANDF, and SADC countries, the pound clean ups in Gauteng, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland as well as of vehicle testing stations and Provincial Vehicle Crime Forums (PVCF).
When it comes to technology, vehicle tracking and micro-dotting companies, car rental companies and banks are playing a big role. “Partnership between micro-dotting and tracking companies are starting to make inroads and this is an example of taking a stand together,” says Van Zyl.
Ron Knott-Craig, executive operations director at Tracker, explains that there are many ways to effectively partner to combat crime.
“Our relationship with the SAPS has resulted in over 13 000 arrests and the recovery of some 67 000 stolen and hijacked vehicles. Our vehicle intelligence data gives us insight into the operations of these syndicates and more importantly, their modus operandi. Sharing quality data with crime prevention bodies will hugely assist in piecing together the full picture. Furthermore, we need to develop a more entrenched culture of collaboration between the private and the public sector, the media and members of the public,” he says.
He adds that South Africa has no choice but to come together in the fight against crime. “With vehicle safety technology and a more coordinated effort to share data and information between the likes of the Financial Intelligence Centre, the National Prosecuting Authority, SAPS, the Assets Forfeiture Unit, the Road Accident Fund, we can make great strides against criminals. The time to act is now.”