The car remote jamming era

2012-11-17 15:08

Car thieves have discovered their most successful tactic of breaking into cars without forced entry and there isn’t much anyone can do about it. This is the era of car remote jamming.

A few months ago, insurance company Aon South Africa reported an influx of car remote jamming incidents received by their customer call centre.

What makes matters worse is that most insurance companies don’t pay out without proof of forced entry.

Aon spokesperson Mandy Barrett said they saw a 30% increase in reported incidents, but real figures are higher because many victims don’t even bother reporting crimes.

Barrett explains that remote jamming involves the blocking of car remotes using a household one.

“Both car and household remotes operate at a 400 megahertz frequency and criminals prevent the locking action of the car from being activated by pressing down on their remotes as the owners are about to lock their cars or homes.”

According to the SA Police Service (SAPS), 40 cases of theft from vehicles were reported weekly in the Sandton area during January. At least 85% were thefts in which jamming took place.

“Check your policy wordings such as ‘by design’ and ‘by preference’, which offers cover under the specified risks section of the policy,” she adds.
Motoring expert Rob Handfield-Jones says there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

“I don’t think anything can be done about it. I can think of no practical way to stop people selectively jamming a frequency band. A friend of mine had a claim repudiated because of this remote jamming. I sympathise with the insurers though,” he says.

“Why should they be on the hook just because someone might have forgotten to lock their car?”

MUA Insurance Acceptances managing director Christelle Fourie says her company has experienced a significant increase in claims for theft from vehicles with no sign of forced or visible entry and it is presumed these claims are related to the remote-jamming scam.

“The 2011/12 SAPS crime report revealed a 4.8% increase in theft from motor vehicles and research indicates the remote-jamming scam has become the second most commonly used method to commit this crime.”

Fourie says whether an insurance company will pay out on such a claim is uncertain.

“For a claim to be successful, the insurer would likely request some form of proof from the client, which is particularly tricky unless you not only happen to park in view of a security camera, but are able to obtain the footage that supports your version of events,” she adds.

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