EXPLAINER | This former thief shares why stealing VW Polo badges is a lucrative 'business'

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2010 Volkswagen Polo Vivo, also referred to as the 9N3 model.
2010 Volkswagen Polo Vivo, also referred to as the 9N3 model.

Theft of VW badges, especially on the Polo models, have become a trend.

An aftermarket badge can be purchased for around R150 while one at a dealership can set you back R850.

We managed to speak to an unnamed source who knows the ins and outs of this lucrative business.

For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.

Many have tried, and many have failed; there is seemingly no passenger car that can dethrone or even come close to the monthly sales amassed by the Volkswagen Polo and Polo Vivo.

The roads are filled with both old and new generations, with just about every second or third motorist behind the wheel of one. People love the German brand, and it shows.

Keep your Polo safe

Some, though, 'love' it so much that they cannot keep their hands off of these cars. Unfortunately, this means resorting to stealing specific parts that can cost a pretty penny - much to the owner's despair and inconvenience.

VW badge
VW badge

Have you been a victim of badge or headlight theft? Please Email us, or please leave a comment below.

There have been numerous posts on social media showing higher-specced models like the GTI or R-Line in the Johannesburg surrounds with their headlights promptly removed. One can only assume that those parts get sold off at a cut-price to an innocent and unsuspecting buyer.

After visiting a local VW Barons dealer to find out prices for a brand-new set, quotes for just the headlight casing was priced at R7 000 a pair. I also enquired about OEM emblems retailing for R850 - bringing me to my next point of call.

While having your headlights stolen is an unfathomable concept, there is an alarming trend happening that is also to the detriment of Polo drivers, and one that has become increasingly apparent over the years.

At some point, you might have seen a fourth, fifth or sixth-generation Polo without its front badge, and, just like the guys that steal the headlights, badge theft is a regular trend happening across Cape Town - and the rest of the country.

READ | These add-ons will increase the value of your used vehicle

I managed to speak to an unnamed source who used to steal badges as a means of income a few years ago.

W24: Why did you steal Polo and Polo Vivo badges?

 A lot of people have Polo's, and I made money from motorists that needed badges for their own vehicles. I had to make a living so I sold it for R100 or whatever the people have on them. I had to look after myself so stealing badges was easy.

W24: How easy is it to steal the front badge, and how long does it usually take?

It wasn't hard for me. I usually took it within 10-seconds, but sometimes it could take longer because maybe the driver fitted tie straps or glue there. If I was in a hurry, I had to sometimes just force it out.

W24: Describe the method you used to remove it from the grille?

There are clips on the inside that come loose when you know how to do it. I would turn and pull until I can feel it coming loose, and then I just pulled it out fast.

W24: Are there specific places you used to target, like parking lots, malls?

I would go to open parking lots at shopping malls where security guards can't see me so well. I know there will be plenty of Polo's there so I can choose.

W24: Have you ever been caught in the act?

I always made sure nobody was near me when busy. Once someone saw me and I had to run away because I didn't want to get beaten up or go to the police. It is all about being quick.

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