Despite the sophisticated technology used in modern cars today, theft of items from parked vehicles continues to be a crime that is prevalent across South Africa.
Community Policing Forum (CPF) crime data gathered by 7Arrows Security recently revealed that vehicle break-ins and the theft of valuables from vehicles have increased.
While in some cases, criminals gain access to valuables inside the vehicle by breaking a window or tampering with the lock, the growing trend is the use of remote jamming devices, which prevents the car from locking.
According to Maanda Tshifularo, Head of Dial Direct Insurance: "These crimes predominately take place at garage forecourts and shopping centres during the day and commonly involve two perpetrators. New shopping centres, restaurants etc are particularly vulnerable as they typically don't have jamming solutions in place yet and have new security staff who aren't as experienced in screening visitors to identify potential threats. That said, a few simple precautions can be taken to ensure that your belongings, and your vehicle are protected."
Tshifularo points out that all vehicle makes are susceptible and as such, drivers should take heed of the following:Make sure you park your vehicle in a secure, well-lit space, where a security guard is present;Be mindful of remote jamming - check manually that the door handle is locked, even if the locked alarm has sounded;Be vigilant as you get out of your car - "sliders", (criminals who appear to be simply walking by) are opportunistic and take chances by opening the car door in the split second before you lock it and escaping with valuables;Clear your car out at the end of each day, so that you leave nothing behind that can tempt criminals;Anti-smash-and-grab film on your windows offers an additional layer of protection against break-ins;Valuables such as phones and handbags should be kept out of sight, even while driving;Never leave house keys or important papers in your car; andEnsure that you have adequate insurance cover on portable possessions you carry with you on a regular basis.
MD of 7Arrows Security, Jason Mordecai, recommends a "sense check" using your senses of touch, sight and sound.
"When getting out of the car, look around you; do you see a car with occupants that look suspicious? Physically tugging the door handle of the car to ensure it is locked, entails the sense of touch. In addition, use your eyes and ears to double check for signs that the vehicle is locked," says Mordecai.
7Arrows Security encourages remote jamming hotspots to consider installing detectors that warn when a device is being used. Security officers should also be briefed to monitor groups of people sitting in stationary vehicles, loitering in public parking lots or approaching other cars.
"That said, in a climate where remote jamming is rife and unlikely to decrease any time soon, the best way to avoid vehicle break-ins is to leave your car free of valuable items," says Mordecai.