Is your car on the shopping list of South Africa's brazen car thieves? Compare the list of the most commonly stolen cars with the bestselling cars and you'll notice that this country's thieves seem to favour the same vehicles as most of the honest population. Let's look at the most frequently stolen or hijacked vehicles in SA and how these numbers might affect you as an owner.
Most South Africans choose their cars based on good looks, crisp infotainment screens, overall comfort or their ability to complement an adventurous lifestyle. And it's the corresponding reputation for inherent reliability (or commonality of proven components) linked with the top-selling vehicles in SA that makes them equally popular among criminals.
According to the most recent South African Police Service (SAPS) report, cases of reported hijackings in this country have increased by up to 30% since 2019, and 15% when compared to 2021. With a total of 23,025 vehicles stolen by the end of 2022, this works out to 63 new cases a day. No real surprise that the provinces with the most hijackings are the main hubs of Gauteng, KZN and the Western Cape, but the Eastern Cape is showing concerning growth.
According to stats from Fidelity ADT, the most commonly stolen cars in South Africa are, by brand, Toyota, accounting for 31.6% of recorded incidents, with VW coming in at 14.1% and Ford following at 10.4%. Drill down further to look at specific models and you'll find that while the popular Volkswagen Polo has long been targeted by thieves — including those simply looking to steal parts from parked cars — the segment-topping Toyota Hilux bakkie and its Fortuner SUV sibling regularly sit atop the list of the most frequently hijacked vehicles in the country. Joined by stablemates like the Prado, Land Cruiser and the since-discontinued Etios hatch, these Toyota-badged models are often either stolen and stripped for parts or moved quickly across our borders.
The venerable Nissan NP200 half-ton bakkie offers proven reliability and durability — qualities that local thieves are similarly drawn to. Larger and altogether more comfortable than the Nissan, the modern Ford Ranger double cab is another regular target. Ironically, a white exterior colour, which is likely to secure you both a better resale value on your vehicle and a cheaper insurance premium, is also the most popular colour among thieves and carjacking syndicates.
Now if you compare the above most commonly stolen cars to the vehicles in the current top 10 best-selling cars in South Africa, you'll notice many overlaps, with the Polo, Hilux, NP200 and Ranger making the cut on both lists. While these cars no doubt hold appeal for car thieves, it's also important to mention that cars that feature on the bestselling vehicles list are statistically more likely to be stolen simply because there are more of them on the road.
Neither the respective makers of these vehicles nor local insurance companies are oblivious to the fact that these vehicles feature regularly on the list of most frequently stolen or hijacked cars in South Africa – although it hasn't affected the cost of the cars, the resale value or their popularity. And while you probably don't want to hear this, driving a high-risk vehicle may translate into higher premiums (sorry!), although your entire risk profile (not just the car you drive) determines what you pay for insurance.
While most modern insurance quotes will now insist on a vehicle tracking system (or, in some cases, two) being installed before the car leaves the showroom, brands like Toyota, Ford and Volkswagen have each introduced updates aimed at making their customers feel less vulnerable. In the case of VW, for example, the Polo's headlamp units (popular among thieves) now feature a more intricate double clamp that makes them harder to remove by force.
The more you do to keep your vehicle safe and secure, the more likely your insurance company is to adjust your premiums accordingly. Listing the times of the day you plan to use the car, while offering a secure overnight parking solution are some ways to lower your risk profile. Installing one or more modern security systems to your vehicle, as well as making certain that your vehicle is always locked when parked, will also add peace of mind.
Of course, it's always important to take steps to avoid a hijacking or car theft situation no matter which vehicle you own. Here are a few ways to keep yourself — and your car — safe.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.