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The most stolen cars in South Africa – and where they are smuggled to

The most frequently stolen vehicles in South Africa are bakkies, SUVs, sedans, and high-speed hatchbacks, as per data from car-tracking firm Cartrack.

Bakkies are often stolen to be resold in other regions where they are employed to transport goods and are therefore in high demand on the black market.

Meanwhile, stolen SUVs are usually stripped down for parts like engines and exhaust systems, though similar to bakkies, they may also be resold for a profit.

Thieved sedans repeatedly find their way into the e-hailing sector where they can easily blend into their surroundings after being taken from their owners.

As for high-speed hatchbacks, they are generally used to carry out other crimes such as armed robberies as a result of their nimbleness and capability to outrun the police.

While Cartrack didn’t name any specific models, Fidelity Services Group previously highlighted several high-risk vehicles that fall into one of these categories, comprising:

  • VW Polo
  • Ford Ranger
  • Nissan NP200
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Toyota Corolla Cross
  • Toyota Hilux GD-6 and D-4D
  • Toyota Fortuner GD-6 and D-4D

South Africa currently faces a scourge of vehicle crime with an average of 65 cars per day being taken from their rightful owners.

These criminals use several tactics to carry out their thievery, ranging from rudimentary methods such as targeting motorists in their driveways and using force to steal their vehicles, to sophisticated techniques like key relay attacks.

Where stolen South African cars are smuggled to

Vehicles stolen in South Africa for the purposes of smuggling across the border are generally taken to either Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, or Zimbabwe, said Cartrack.

To get to Botswana, the cars are frequently snuck through the Sikwane border located in the North West province.

There exist two main avenues into Mozambique, one from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and one from Mpumalanga.

Criminals have started to build makeshift steel bridges to smuggle vehicles across a solid concrete fence separating the Umkhayakude village in northern KZN and Mozambique.

In Mpumalanga, the cars are simply driven through the border fence, sometimes in broad daylight, into our northeastern neighbour. It is believed that the police are even working with the thieves as police cars have been observed escorting stolen vehicles to the borders, as reported by Club of Mozambique.

Vehicles stolen in the Northern Cape are trafficked through the Vioolsdrift crossing into Namibia; and those from Limpopo are driven across the Limpopo River at low tide, or dragged across by donkeys, into Zimbabwe.

Once in these African nations, the stolen cars are often fitted with fake number plates and bootlegged across the border for the second time into Zambia.

Zambia is seen as the link to the rest of the continent as it shares its borders with eight countries: Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

As a result, it is the main attraction for syndicates to traffic stolen vehicles in large quantities to different parts of Africa.

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