South Africa experienced a significant drop in vehicle crime during the national lockdown, activities are returning to normal levels as country restrictions are being lifted.
Car Tracking data reveals an 89% reduction in the number of vehicle recovery activities nationally during the first week of the lockdown, as compared to the average weekly vehicle recovery activities pre-lockdown. This is in line with a preliminary police report that noted a decline in trio crimes, namely car and truck hijackings, business robberies, and house robberies
Vehicle crime activities are increasing as the country’s restrictions are being lifted. During the lockdown extension, the number of vehicle recovery activities increased nearly three-fold compared to the first week of lockdown. The first week of level 4 restrictions has seen vehicle recovery activities more than double compared to the lockdown extension figures, representing a six-fold increase from the first week of lockdown to figures that are now only 34% lower than pre-lockdown averages. Vehicle crime activities are set to rise even further, back to the same levels or even higher as South Africans return to work and criminals resume their operations.
During the first three weeks of lockdown, hijackings attributed a higher percentage of tracked vehicle recovery activities compared to theft. The pre-COVID-19 Tracking average for hijackings and theft is a 49/51% split. The initial lockdown period saw an average 63/37% split in the favour of hijackings. This returned to a more even split during the extended lockdown period where noticed an increase in vehicle movement with more citizens on the road as regulations were eased. The slant towards hijackings during lockdown is most likely an opportunistic tactic with criminals preying on vehicles out in the open, while most other vehicles would have been securely locked away.