Sep

Truck fleets hard hit in R8.5bn crime problem

2014-09-26 08:22
The industry has seen a marked increase in truck hijackings over the past year. Ron Knott-Craig, executive operations director at Tracker, says strides against criminals can be made but what is needed is to develop a more entrenched culture of collaboration between the private and the public sector, the media and members of the public.

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.”

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  1. As clients/owners, Insurers and very specially, Insurance Brokers, Tracking Companies and drivecam/driverisk companies,we should all take hands and tackle firstly the 70 percent that gets lost in South Africa and then secondly, the other 30 percent. One way of doing this, is for the logistical managers to have an hourly password system in place which changes every hour and the driver must then answer each hour with the different password that was given to him an hour ago. In this way, an one hour radius( plus minus 80 to 100 km) can be established, making the search easier and quicker, should there be a theft/hijack of a vehicle.

  2. http://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sa-firm-uses-tech-turn-tables-hijackers-jamie-ross

    Pulsit Electronics has developed a system it says counters signal jamming by hijackers, something that has become a scourge in the fleet management industry in Southern Africa. By Duncan McLeod.

    A South African vehicle tracking and fleet management company, Pulsit Electronics, has developed a system it believes could help weaken the scourge of truck hijackings in Southern Africa. It works by countering the signal jamming devices criminals use to block vehicle tracking systems.

    Pulsit Electronics chief financial and information officer Bokkie Fourie explains that hijackers use a range of jamming systems — some of them quite sophisticated, others less so — to block tracking systems from communicating via the cellular networks or via satellite. Once jammed, they typically either hijack the vehicle or work in cahoots with the driver and move it to another location where they offload its precious cargo.

    But Pulsit’s system, which took about six months from conception to final development, is able to identify when frequency jammers are being used and, if detected, will put a vehicle into a disabled state in which it can’t be driven.

    Though the driver is still able to control the vehicle’s power steering and brakes in this state, he isn’t able to accelerate until the jamming signal is switched off. An alert can also be sent to a central office, prompting an agent to try to call the driver and, if necessary, to call in a response team.

    Fourie says signal jamming is a big headache for logistics companies in Southern Africa. Pulsit installed its first commercial version of its jamming mitigation system last month and Fourie claims a number of logistics firms have approached the company interested in using it in their fleets.

    Fourie explains that the system is able to determine when tracking signals are being jammed. It does this by measuring signal characteristics to determine if there is deterioration through noise in the frequency bands they use.

    “When jamming happens, we induce the disabled state, which inhibits acceleration. The truck can idle — it can gear down and park — but it can’t go anywhere.”

    If the tracking system is able to filter through the noise sufficiently, it will transmit its normal position and a distress signal with details of the jamming event. Even if the tracking device is unplugged, the vehicle will remain in the disabled state. Fourie says it’s virtually impossible to disable the limp mode, but he declines to explain in detail how it works, saying it’s a trade secret.

    Fleet owners can decide whether or not to alert potential hijackers that their trucks are fitted with the system by placing a notice to this effect on their vehicles.

    Pulsit Electronics is now developing a similar system for trailers for instances where hijackers, for example, remove the trailer and hook it up to another truck and then force the driver to drive his now trailer-less vehicle along his usual route to fool the tracking system and those monitoring it.

    “If they split horse and trailer, we’re looking at various options to immobilise the trailer,” explains Fourie. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media

    Below is a quote from the interview by Gavin Kelly of the road Freight association describing the jamming crises facing the transport industry.

    Link : http://www.enca.com/truck-hijacking-evolving-crime-roads

    “Hijackers also used two kinds of jamming devices to bypass the truck’s tracking device. One kind would scramble the tracking system and remove it off the system. The second type would mimic the truck’s tracking system and send out a duplicate signal showing the truck was standing stationary somewhere.

    “Obviously the first one is less sophisticated and easier to catch because once a truck disappears off the system you immediately know there’s something fishy,” Kelly said.” Ref : Gavin Kelly of the Road Freight Association.

    If you would like more information on how to combat this threat to your fleet, please contact me on : jamie@pulsit.co.za