Unfortunately, hijackings and other car-related thefts have 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. Our findings are as follows:
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, vehicle crimes (as well as crimes in general), are 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 vehicle-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.