CRA Motoring & Public Safety – South Africa

By Val van de Walt
Minimise your chances of becoming the victim of automotive crime.

VEHICLE thefts will never go away, and criminals constantly devise new methods of stealing cars, breaking into cars and hijacking them.

How can you, the vehicle owner, minimise your chances of becoming the victim of automotive crime in its various forms?

The following advice and tips will help:

Never leave your car running while unattended
Not when opening or closing a gate, or when loading or off-loading people or goods in town.
Get into the habit of always turning the engine off and removing the keys from the ignition.

Always lock your car’s doors
If your car’s doors don’t automatically lock after starting to move, make a point of manually locking them even before pull-away.
It should be as routine as clipping in the seat belt.
Also, before leaving a parked car, whether it’s at the mall or at home in the yard – or even in the garage overnight – lock the doors and test if they are locked before walking away.

Keep keys and spare sets out of sight
Your car’s spare keys should preferably be kept in a safe and the set in use should either be in your pocket or, when at home, placed where it cannot be seen by passersby.
Especially at night, keys should be kept well away from windows.

Use the inbuilt steering lock
Every car’s steering locks when the key is not in the ignition and turned slightly.
Lock the steering in this way whenever the car is unattended, even overnight in the garage.
It’s one more obstacle thieves have to overcome when they want your wheels.

Install a cut switch
Older cars out of their manufacturer’s warranty period can be fitted with a hidden switch which cuts power to the engine.
While an excellent precautionary measure, altering the electrics will void the warranty, so this is really just for older vehicles, and even then, have the switch fitted by a qualified auto electrician.Invest in a tracking device
A tracking device is an absolute must if you drive any bakkie or one of the passenger cars popular with thieves.
To take the sting out of the initial cost of the device and the monthly subscription, ask your insurance company to lower your premium.
After installing the device, save the tracking company’s number on your phone for immediate access.

Use a clean wash bay
Some people nowadays drop their vehicles off at a car wash or a valet service, only to fetch them later when the job is done.
Only use a reputable car wash where the safety of customers’ cars is a priority.
Even so, remove valuables and find out from your insurance whether you will be compensated in the case of something going missing while not under your control.

Keep documents safe
Never drive around with the car’s original logbook on board.
Those belong at home and in a safe place.
Keep the vehicle’s registration number and VIN stored in your phone or written down on a card kept in your wallet, for in case your car gets stolen and you need that info in a hurry.

Lock those mags
Many a Zululand resident has stood before a car missing one or sometimes all wheels.
In most cases it’s just for the scrap value aluminium mags have.
Buy a set of ‘lock nuts’ and put one on every wheel.
Bakkie and SUV owners must secure exterior spare wheels as well.

Common sense
We live in a country where crime is rife, but just applying some everyday common sense will greatly reduce the risk of becoming another statistic.
Avoid isolated areas and parts of town with a high crime rate.
Don’t leave valuables lying on the seats in open view.
Make double sure your car is locked every time you leave it unattended.
Those are repetitive tips, but important and will save you many hours of misery and a lot of money.

Credit to Zululand Observer.