South Africa experienced a big drop by car crime during the national blockade, activities are returning to normal levels because the country’s restrictions are lifted.
Car tracking data reveals an 89% reduction in the number of vehicle recovery activities nationwide during the first week of the lockdown, compared to the weekly average of pre-lockdown vehicle recovery activities. This is in line with a preliminary police report that found a decrease in three offenses, namely hijacking of cars and trucks, corporate robberies and home thefts.
Vehicle-related criminal activities are escalating as the country’s restrictions are lifted. During the extension of the lockdown, the number of vehicle recovery activities increased nearly three times from the first week of the lockdown. The first week of level 4 restrictions saw vehicle recovery activities more than double from the block extension figures, representing a sixfold increase from the first week of blocking to numbers that are now just 34% lower compared to the pre-locking averages. Vehicle-related criminal activities are expected to increase further, returning to the same level or even higher as South Africans return to work and criminals resume operations.
During the first three weeks of the lockdown, hijackings attributed a higher percentage of tracked vehicle recovery activity than theft. The average pre-COVID-19 monitoring for kidnappings and robberies is a 49/51% split. The initial blockade period saw an average of 63/37% divided in favor of kidnappings. This returned to a more uniform split during the extended lockdown period where increased movement of vehicles with more citizens on the road was noted as regulations were relaxed. The penchant for kidnappings during the lockdown is likely an opportunistic tactic in which criminals take advantage of vehicles outdoors, while most other vehicles would have been safely locked.
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