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7 ways to protect yourself against car remote jammers in South Africa

Car remote jamming is on the rise in South Africa despite being a prominent method of car theft for decades as motorists continue to remain vulnerable to it, according to Fidelity Services Group.

Remote jamming refers to when thieves jam the signal sent from the key fob to the car, which stops the doors from locking when the owner presses the “lock” button.

Jamming can interfere with various types of wireless equipment, including alarm panels, cellphone communication, detectors, fleet tracking systems, and radio reporting to a control room.

“It goes well beyond your and my car in a shopping centre parking area,” explains Charnel Hattingh, Fidelity Head of Marketing and Communications.

“These criminals are not only committing theft out of motor vehicles but also theft of motor vehicles, hijacking of vehicles/trucks and cargo, and house and business robberies by using remote jamming.”

The expert notes that car remote jamming is especially prevalent in parking lots at shopping malls and petrol stations in South Africa.

Thieves have gotten so brazen that they no longer leave the areas after committing the crimes. Instead, they stand around blending into the crowd to wait for their next target.

“While security guards and car guards are on high alert for these criminals, remember it is effortless for the thieves to approach a car, open it, pop the boot, take what they want, and walk off. They’re not breaking into a car; they aren’t even concerned about what car security devices or vehicle anti-theft systems you may have,” said Hattingh.

“A passerby may think the thief is the owner of the car – if they notice them at all. And, they breeze through access control systems when they drive out because they seldom draw attention to themselves.”

She adds that there is often no damage or signs of forced entry on the vehicle, and insurance companies can therefore refuse to cover the stolen items unless you are with an insurer that clearly stipulates it will protect you against remote jamming.

Camera footage from CCTV at service stations or mall security may help your case with your insurer, but does not guarantee a pay-out.

Military-grade car key signal jammers confiscated from suspected thieves. Source: SAPS

Stay vigilant, stay safe

Hattingh provided the following tips to help motorists avoid falling victim to remote jammers:

  1. Check your doors to see if they are locked before walking away. If your door opens, get in and drive away, chances are the criminals have targeted you.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings and suspicious people loitering around the parking area or sitting in cars.
  3. Look around as you drive in and before you park, and report suspicious-looking people to security or move your car to a safer place.
  4. Remember when you open your boot, everyone can see what’s inside, especially if they are eagerly waiting for this. A boot with a visible laptop or other valuables can make you an instant target.
  5. Never leave valuables in plain sight in the car.
  6. Always park in the safest location, where there are many other cars and security guards.
  7. Think about real-time car GPS tracking for added peace of mind.

“As thieves become increasingly resourceful, it is up to vehicle owners to ensure their vehicle and belongings remain safe,” concludes Hattingh.

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