Grand theft auto (motor vehicle theft) in South Africa has increased steadily since 2011, as suggested by the Crime Statistics Report for 2020 – 2021 — an annual report released by the South African Police Service (SAPS). These crimes include carjacking, truck hijacking, and theft of motor vehicles or motorcycles. As a result of this worrying statistic, it is not wrong to think about whether or not car thieves are drawn to certain car models. This piece helps you solve this question by listing cars that are at high risk of being stolen. The list is sourced from various data sources, including an interview between Michelle Pelser (branch manager at Fidelity Security ADT, Johannesburg South) and BusinessTech.
VW Polo Hatchback
Starting off the list of most stolen cars in South Africa is the VW Polo Hatchback. According to the car.co.za, the 6th model of this Polo has sold over 80,000 units since it was released in 2018. It was the most sold passenger vehicle in 2019. It is not unusual to see Polo hatchbacks from time to time on South African roads when you run errands during the day. As such, it is targeted by thieves for resale and for parts. A new VW Polo hatchback will set you back between R 311 800 and 489 400. Used older models go for between R 160 000 and R 200 000.
VW Polo sedan
The VW Polo sedans on South African roads are either one of two kinds. They are either trendlines or comfort lines. They are the saloon car (sedan) version of the VW Polo hatchback, just like the name suggests. These models of the Polo are also popular attractions to car thieves. A new Polo Sedan with 63 kW of power costs R 270 000 while one with 77kW of power costs around R 340 000.
“Bakkies,” as pickup trucks are commonly referred to in South Africa, are popular cars. The Toyota Hilux is one of the most sought-after bakkie models. A cars.co.za release ranks it in the top five best-selling bakkies of June 2022, having sold 969 units. Although, this was after the devastating April floods affected the supply of Toyota Hilux cars. For perspective, it was the top-selling car of the year in 2020. This car shares an engine with the Toyota Quantum (which is used as a minibus taxi) and Toyota Fortuner. As a result of its popularity, there is a high demand its parts. For thieves, it is easy to get rid of this car within a short period, either as a whole or as disassembled parts. A new one starts from about R 300 000 for a low spec model and goes all the way up to R 930 000 for the high spec Hilux Legend.
Ford Ranger is another commonly stolen vehicle in South Africa. It was the top best-selling bakkies vehicle model in the June, according to a release by cars.co.za. A single cabin, two-wheel drive Ford Ranger with a 2.2-liter diesel TDCI engine is the entry-level priced Ranger. It costs about R 296 000 from Ford Motors. On the other hand, a double cabin, 4-wheel drive Ford Ranger Raptor Special Edition with a 2-liter BiT engine is the higher end of these cars. It goes for about R 869 000.
Nissan NP200 perfectly succeeded the Nissan 1400 (Nissan Champ) as one of the bakkies defining South Africa. Although the big bakkies have won over the appeal of many South Africans, the NP200 still remains popular. It manages to strike a good balance between affordability and value for money. It has a load box big enough to manage a load of up to 300kgs. At the same time, it is small enough to pass off for a normal everyday car. So it is used both for personal and business purposes. It comes with a 1.6-liter engine that slurps 8.1litres every 100km. A new one goes for R 210 500. It is common on the streets but also commonly stolen.
Sharing an easily swappable engine with two other popularly used cars increases the risk of theft of parts. As mentioned before, the Toyota Fortuner, the Hilux, and Quantum Taxi share an engine. This puts the Hilux and Fortuner models at high risk of theft for parts. They are stolen more than Quantum because they are popular with personal car owners. This is due to the fact that personal car owners are less likely to get additional security for their vehicles. Additionally, company vehicles have low appeal to thieves. The low-end Fortuner 2.4-liter engine GD6 RB MT retails for R 623 200, and the high-end Fortuner 2.8-liter engine GD6 VX AT costs R 870 900.
Also on the list is the Nissan Navara. It brings formidable competition to the two top-selling 4-wheel drive off-road bakkies–the Hilux and the Ford Ranger. The lowest spec of the new Navara costs about R 660 000 while the highest spec one costs about R 740 000.
In 2020, the Toyota Etios sold 5 806 units. It was the 12th most bought car in South Africa that year. It is a good hatchback alternative for buyers looking for an everyday workhorse. A 2020 Etios 1.5 liter Xi engine costs about R 175 000 in car dealerships. Older models, however, cost less.
The Toyota Yaris not only brings a sporty outlook to the category of hatchbacks but also packs good power under the hood. In South Africa, the current flagship Yaris is the Toyota GR Yaris. It has a 1.6-liter 3-cylinder turbo petrol engine with 198kW power and 360Nm of torque. It is also among the frequently stolen cars in South Africa. Consequently, if you want to own one, beware of this risk. A new Toyota GR Yaris costs R 761 200 from Toyota South Africa.
Last on this list is the Ford Figo hatchback. It is popular because it has good value for its price. A 2019 Ford Figo trend with a 1.5-liter VCT engine costs about R 200 000 while a Figo Freestyle 1.5 Titanium costs about R 263 200 in dealerships.
What To Do When Your Car is Being Stolen
- Always take your own personal safety into account as the most important thing during an ongoing motor vehicle theft. Try not to escalate the situation. It is already tense for your assailant(s). Remember to raise your hands above your head to show that you are not armed. When they instruct you to get out of the car or to move, do it slowly. Do not make any sudden movements.
- Consider the security of anyone you are with. Motor vehicle theft can occur at any time. During any one of those times, you can be in the company of your spouse or children. Negotiate as much as possible on their behalf. Trade the car keys for their safety if you have to.
- Immediately after the assailants leave, contact the police and your security firm if you have one.
How to Prevent Motor Vehicle Theft
Here are some measures you can take to prevent car theft:
- Ensure your car is properly locked after parking it. Especially when using the remote car lock. Criminals use jamming devices that stop the central locking system of your car from functioning. After locking your car, always check the doors to make sure that they are indeed locked.
- Do not be complacent if you have security. People who live in a complex are particularly prone to this. The security guard provided in a complex might make it feel like you don’t have to think about your car security anymore. However, you should always be on the lookout when headed home. Make sure you are not trailed and that there are no suspicious cars or people outside your gate. If you notice anything odd, drive past the gate and do a few rounds before coming back.
- If you find out that you are being trailed while headed home, slow down as much as possible. You will give your assailant(s) no option but to overtake. Ensure they do not have you in sight by the time you get home.
- Car thieves use clever ways to get you out of the car. If you are privy to this fact, you will be on high alert whenever something happens in traffic that you would otherwise have to attend to by getting out of the car. Common ways they do this include bumping your car from behind, breaking a part of the car, or throwing dirt on the car. If anything happens in traffic you feel you should attend to, signal the other driver to follow you to a safe area that has lots of people. Sort the matter out from there. For more trivial matters like throwing dirt, don’t get out of the car. Use the windshield wipers and water for any windshield dirt.
- Employ a security firm. As much as precautionary measures might help you steer clear of trouble, you should also seek expert security. Over the years, car theft has increased in the country and, by extension, car theft victims. Car security firms use technology such as trackers, tamper sensors, alarms, API (Application Programming Interface) car management, panic buttons, car interior cameras, and location zoning. In the event that your car is getting stolen, these systems alert the security firm, which sends their rapid response unit to preempt the theft.
Owning any car on this list should put you on high alert. Cars are expensive. When they get stolen, it is a big financial setback. Even more so because you will now have to find an alternative, and the legal procedures that follow will require more money. Finally, please note that the cars in this list are in no particular order.