Law to jam car burglars

2016-02-16 11:46
Car remote jamming is becoming a huge problem

Car remote jamming is becoming a huge problem (free images)

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Safety and security agencies in the city centre are working towards having remote jamming devices formally classified as implements used to break into cars.

This as the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), along with police, other improvement districts, community police forums and council law agencies enter into talks with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), says Muneeb Hendricks, safety and security manager of the CCID.

The NPA is the body to prosecute criminals, providing it can be proven that the remote was used to gain access to the car.
Any common remote can be used to jam a car locking or alarm signal, Hendricks explains.

“The words ‘car break-in implement’ refer to an item used in conjunction with force, such as a forcible entry into your car. For example, a spark plug can be used to shatter your window, a Slim Jim can be used to forcibly open your lock or a screwdriver can be used to force open the lock barrel. However, there is no force used when using a remote jamming device. In addition it is also a common item that could reasonably be found on any normal person,” he adds.

This means that even though the culprit is identified and caught in possession of the device, no arrest can be made unless the culprit is caught in the car or in possession of the stolen items, Hendricks says.
Remote jamming works very simply, Hendricks explains. When a driver presses his remote to lock his car, a thief close by will press a hidden remote device of his own repeatedly that overwhelms the airwaves in the area and blocks the driver’s remote signal to the car.

“If you simply beep the remote while walking away and you don’t physically check that the car is locked, there is a fair chance that it might in fact not be. It is imperative that you physically try to open the door yourself before you walk away.”

Remote jamming is particularly problematic because most insurance companies will not pay out unless there is physical proof that a theft has occurred, Hendricks explains.
The matter is of such concern that the CCID has made it a focal point of its current “stash it, don’t flash it” campaign.
“One of the biggest problems with remote jamming is that it has made breaking into cars a simple daytime crime, whereas before if one had to break into a car with force, it was mostly done under cover of darkness.

“During the day business people, especially, tend to carry more valuables in their cars such as laptops and tablets, so the loss is that much greater.”

Having remote jamming devices classified as implements used to break into cars would help law enforcement agencies, as preventative work can then be done to arrest suspects for being in possession of these implements, Hendricks says.

“This would go a long way to prevent theft out of cars, which is a highly problematic crime category throughout the country. It will also allow the prosecutor to be able to secure successful convictions when suspects are arrested,” he says.

“We are always looking to prevent incidents rather than having to react to them afterwards. This would make suspects aware that they risk arrest if they are found to be in possession of remotes while they are scouting a potential area.”

Hendricks says there are several ways for car owners to safeguard themselves against this type of crime, such as keeping all valuables out of sight in the car’s boot and stashing valuables before they park by placing them in the boot before the start of the journey.

“In the central city all of our CCID public safety officers are also specifically trained to notice as far as possible who climbs out of which car, and to warn drivers to check their doors when they park.”
Hendricks advises that if you do fall victim to remote jamming, though, to follow through with more than just a police report and to ensure your car is fingerprinted.
“That way when the culprit is caught, the police will be able to make the link and the person can be charged with multiple counts of breaking into cars, rather than just the one for which he happened to be caught.”

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