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How Many South Africans Have Been a Victim of Car-Related Crime?

Unfortunately, hijackings and other car-related crime has become the norm for millions of South Africans across the country. If you’ve ever stood around the braai or your office water-cooler and been part of the “So and so had their phone stolen in a smash and grab yesterday” conversation, you’ll know that almost everyone is able to chime in with a story of their own run-in with brazen criminals who end up costing South Africa over 8 billion rand annually.

We surveyed more than 2,500 South Africans across the country to find out just how close to home hijackings, car theft, and smash-and-grabs really are.

Car Theft

21% of respondents answered that they’d had their own car stolen. Out of that 21%, 17% had their car stolen once, 3% had their car stolen twice and an even unluckier 1% reported having their car stolen three or more times. Alarmingly, more people know someone who’s had their vehicle stolen than those who don’t: a massive 68% of those surveyed said that they knew someone whose car had been stolen. 33% knew one person, 11% knew two people and worryingly, 24% reported that they knew three or more people who’d been the victim of vehicle theft.


6% of our respondents had been hijacked, with 1% of respondents falling prey to this traumatic crime more than once. 56% knew someone who had been hijacked, of which 29% said they knew of one person, 8% knew of two people, and 19% knew of three or more people.

Smash and Grab

15% of our survey respondents have been a victim of a smash and grab, and 64% or 2,843 people said they know someone who’s experienced a smash and grab. Of the latter, 32% knew of one person, 10% knew two people and  22% knew of three or more people.

The latest statistics from the SAPS corroborate our findings. Between 2017 and 2018, there were a total of 16,325 hijackings, 50,663 cars reported as stolen, and 129,174 reported incidences of theft out of motor vehicles.

Bear in mind, car-related crime (as well as crime in general), is sadly under-reported in SA (due to a variety of reasons) which means that the actual numbers exceed the statistics cited above.

The Bigger Picture is a Sobering One

According to eNatis, there are 7,414,538 vehicles on the road today. We surveyed 2,560 people, of which 42% had been a victim of some kind of car-related crime. If our sample audience is indicative of all South African drivers, a total of 2,965,815 people have been the victim of either car theft, a smash and grab, a hijacking, or a combination thereof. This is merely conjecture, but our findings, coupled with the latest stats from the SAPS, paint a grim picture for South African motorists.