JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng – The 90% reduction in vehicle and other crime in South Africa during the national Covid-19 lockdown has reversed as criminals get back on the roads.
Criminals are accelerating their activities as road traffic increases in line with the reductions in human activity and burglars are back in business.
Tracker data, reported from the company’s 1.1-million installed vehicle base, showed a 90% reduction in the number of vehicle recovery activities nationally during the first week of the lockdown,
This, Tracker told The Corner, was in line with a preliminary police report that noted a decline in a three types of crime: car and truck hijacking, business robbery, and burglaries. They were down down to 2098 in the first week of the lockdown from 8853 during the same period in 2019.
However, vehicle criminal activity is increasing as the restrictions are lifted. Crimes involving vehicles have nearly trebled and are expected to increase further to levels greater than before Covid-19 came ashore as people return to work and criminals get back on the job.
Tracker also reports that, during the first three weeks of lockdown, hijacking was attributed more to more theft reports. The pre-Covid-19 Tracker averages for hijacking and theft were about equal.
At first the split averaged 63/37% in the favour of hijacking. This evened out during the extended lockdown period where Tracker noticed an increase in vehicle movement with more citizens on the road as regulations were eased.
The slant towards hijacking during lockdown was, Tracker says, most likely opportunistic with criminals preying on vehicles out in the open while most others would have been securely locked away.
Other crime trends included vehicles being targeted for their loads, particularly food and fast-moving consumables. Clients were also being robbed of valuables and large amounts of cash.
Ron Knott-Craig spokesperson for Tracker SA, told The Corner: “The decrease in vehicle crime during lockdown can be attributed to fewer vehicles on the road and a higher presence of law enforcement.
“However, we have already seen criminal activity as vehicle movements increase and expect to get back to pre-Covid levels, possibly as early as this week. Across the country, criminals are resuming their activity under eased restrictions.
”Under Level 4 restrictions we recovered a vehicle in partnership with law enforcement which was being moved across a national border.”
‘SHARE YOUR JOURNEY’
Knott-Craig added: ”People should be particularly vigilant as life gets closer to normal, especially when returning home from shopping. Make sure your vehicle tracking device is in working; use the features offered by your vehicle tracking service.
”For instance, share your journey with a friend or loved one so they know where you are and that you are safe. Today’s tracking services are an ideal solution to their safety.”