Why is your car attractive to criminals?

By Staff Writer

As long as there’s a demand for vehicles on the illegal market, criminal syndicates will continue to steal and hijack cars to ensure the supply meets the demand.

Unfortunately, the high levels of vehicle-related crime in South Africa show that there’s certainly a market for stolen cars and parts.  For South African vehicle-owners this means that the threat of their car being stolen or hijacked is ever-present.

“Although no vehicle is immune to hijacking or theft, there are certain factors that affect a vehicle’s risk profile,” says Auto & General’s director, Angelo Haggiyannes.

He lists the use of effective anti-theft devices as one of the main factors influencing a vehicle’s risk profile.

“The manner and degree to which a vehicle’s original identity is protected also plays a significant role in its risk profile. The more that is done to preserve the original identity of a car, the less attractive it is to criminals and the lower its risk profile,” says Haggiyannes.

According to analyses done by Business Against Crime South Africa (BACSA), the other key factors that influence a car’s risk profile include:

* The make and model of the vehicle - Entry-level, popular cars which fall into the high market volume segment (ie makes and models which make up a large portion of the vehicle population) are at a higher risk of theft and hijacking. This is largely because it is easier for stolen vehicles to disappear amongst the high volume of legal vehicles on the road. There’s also a great demand for secondhand parts for cars falling into this segment. Conversely, newly-released or lesser known models typically have low theft numbers and low risk profiles.
   
* The age of the car – Older cars, such as those between 8 and 18 years old, are at a higher risk of theft while cars aged between 1 and 4 years are at a higher risk of hijacking. This could be attributed to the fact that anti-theft devices on newer cars are more effective and because many older cars fall into the large volume market segment where there’s a big demand for secondhand vehicles and parts.
   
* Brand characteristics – Some brands, such as high-performance, medium market volume vehicles that can be used to execute other crimes, are just more desirable to criminals.

Haggiyannes concludes: “You can lower your car’s risk profile by fitting it with the best anti-theft and tracking devices you can afford.

“Remember that the amount you will pay on your monthly insurance premiums is linked to the risk profile of your car. So, you could bring down the cost of your car insurance by investing in additional vehicle security.”

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