Motoring News

Daylight robbery! Play safe when selling privately

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Lockdown has had a major effect on the finances of many South African households… to such an extent that some families must to sell the family car.

Particularly if it is a little-used second vehicle.

Often the option of selling a car privately is more appealing to avoid paying a showroom or used-car dealer a commission.

Search and sales data on AutoTrader, the company says, noted a significant increase in private listings through July and August. July 2020 saw a 139% year-on-year increase over the same month a year earlier and August was already up to 136%.


”A private sale,” Autotrader told The Corner, ”comes with risks. Sellers should be wary of fraudsters – even potential robber! – when they let people test-drive their car so here are some suggested defensive moves.”

Read on…

Protect your personal information – do not to give out too much information when selling your car, whether in the advert or by phone to potential buyers. Criminals could use it against you.

”Also make sure photos you post online don’t have an embedded geotag which could give away your home address.

Don’t meet potential buyers at home. You wouldn’t normally invite strangers to your house so don’t do it while selling your car. Rather take the car to meet buyers at a shopping centre or similar public place… somewhere busy and with video surveillance.


Set appointments during for daylight. Criminals like to use the cover of darkness.

Buddy up. Get a friend to go along. Also, tell your plans to somebody not going with you and ask them to call you at a specified time to check everything is okay. Some tracking services have apps to share your location with such a person.

They can then follow your route and know where you are at all times.

Test your tracking device. Make sure your tracking device is working and that your tracking company has current emergency contacts listed on your tracking profile.

Limit your accessories. Have your cellphone with you but keep other stuff to the minimum – especially unnecessary valuables on your person or in the car.


Request identification. Besides getting their full name and contact number, get a form of identification from the buyer which might be helpful if things go pear-shaped. They will be driving your car, so they need to bring their driver’s licence along.

Request a copy or take a photo. This shouldn’t faze a legitimate buyer but might act as a deterrent to criminals.

Never just hand over the keys! It might seem silly but make sure you’re actually in the car before you give the ignition key to the test driver and retrieve them before exiting the vehicle. They could just drive off and leave you in the dust.

Remain vigilant – if something doesn’t seem right, or feels unsafe, trust your gut and take the necessary steps to extricate yourself from the situation. Whether that means not meeting potential buyers in the first place or leaving immediately when the hackles on your back rise.

Have a back-up plan in case of an emergency.


Ron Knott-Craig from Tracker SA told The Corner: “Criminals are always looking for ways to strike when you least expect it. If you are robbed, remember your life is worth more than your valuables.

”Stay calm, co-operate, and try to get away as quickly as possible. Report the incident to your tracking company and the SAPS as soon as you can.”

Or, of course leave valuables and credit cards at home.

Good luck with your sale!

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