Between March and April 2019, 16 325 vehicles were hijacked in South Africa. In Gauteng, an estimate of 23 cars are hijacked every day. As a result, the tracking industry has grown significantly as it provides one of the best defences against the burgeoning criminal industry in the country.

The managing director of Legratron Electronics, Itumeleng Matshego, says much technology and development has gone into combating vehicle theft in South Africa. “The industry has progressed to the extent that successful recoveries do not only depend on the driver informing us that their vehicle has been stolen or hijacked.

“Instead, monitoring of your normal driving behaviour, can immediately send alerts when the system determines that a potential hijacking has occurred. If the system detects a drastic change in driving style, an alert is sounded. Additionally, we make use of geofence technology to determine when a car enters a high-risk area or when the vehicle moves outside of pre-determined areas.”

Insurance companies have acknowledged the potential of tracking units to reduce the loss of vehicles on the economy and the individual. “Many make it mandatory to have a tracking system installed as a result. Legratron works with numerous insurers who provide various benefits, including premium reductions, to individuals who have tracking units.”

As vehicle telematics further advances, it becomes more difficult for criminals to evade the tracking and recovery of their targeted vehicles. “Admittedly, an unfortunate side effect of this, is that people are increasingly being taken hostage with their vehicles when they are hijacked. This leaves many South Africans asking, what should I do if this happens to me?

“We have taken a number of steps to discourage this from happening. We ensure that people do not know where their tracking units are installed and make this bit of information common knowledge. If the drivers do not know where the units are, then they cannot assist the criminal in locating it.”

Despite our best efforts, however, people are still being taken with their vehicles. “It is difficult to determine whether this is as a result of the tracker or another purpose but each is just as likely as the next’. In either scenario, however, the important thing is that you know what to do and how to respond. There are various anti-hijack courses on the market that could be life-changing if you are taken with your car.”

Telematics has had a major impact on the theft of vehicles in South Africa. “Cars are recovered everyday and should you ever be hijacked, yours could be one of these,” says Matshego.

SOURCE: Samantha Greathead