‘Prevention is key’ in car theft

2016-02-09 06:00
 CCID Public Safety Officer Sabelo Mthi shows a member of the public the importance of physically checking a car has been locked after using a remote. PHOTO: Cape Town Central City District

CCID Public Safety Officer Sabelo Mthi shows a member of the public the importance of physically checking a car has been locked after using a remote. PHOTO: Cape Town Central City District

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Remote jamming is a method of breaking into cars that will become increasingly popular because it attracts very little attention, so prevention is the key to ensuring that one’s valuables stay safe inside your car.

That’s according to Muneeb Hendricks, safety and security manager of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID). 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.”

Remote jamming works very simply, Hendricks says: when a driver presses his remote to lock his car, a thief close by will be pressing a hidden remote device of his own repeatedly. It 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 vehicle 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.

“Otherwise, once the driver has walked away from the car, the thief simply walks up, opens the door and helps himself to whatever valuables happen to be inside. Unless someone happens to be paying particular notice to the driver who left the car, the thief looks perfectly legitimate opening the door and entering.”

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.

“Officers are also vigilant about people simply hanging around waiting for cars to park, and we have conducted awareness drives about remote jamming with pamphlet distributions.”

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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