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Cars being targeted for theft right now

There has been a recent increase in the number of hijackings and vehicle thefts reported across the country, with certain cars being more likely to be targeted than others.

The four most-frequent vehicles to be targeted by criminal syndicates are:

  • Ford Ranger
  • Toyota Hilux
  • Toyota Fortuner
  • Other Toyota GD6 models

The most-common locations for these vehicles to be targeted include shopping malls, schools, and religious events, and many of these vehicles are being moved across the border before they can be recovered.

Tarina Vlok, MD of Elite Risk Acceptances, a specialist high-net-worth insurer, told BusinessTech that the company has seen a marked increase in thefts of the above models, luxury SUVs, and generally newer cars.

Similarly, the latest crime statistics produced by the South African Police Service (SAPS) show that certain areas in Gauteng have seen as much as a 63.5% increase in vehicle thefts within the last quarter.

Old Mutual has also reported an alarming spike in the type of crime, with over 400 high-end models being stolen in 2022 alone, according to Lizo Mnguni, a spokesperson for the insurer.

Keyless entry exploit

Old Mutual warned that vehicles with keyless entry are a major concern, as criminals are using relay devices to exploit the keyless entry system to gain access to and start the vehicle.

Fobs with keyless technology makes use of a “rolling pin” to verify that the fob is, in fact, connected to that specific unit.

The pin is synchronized with the car so that when the key transmits the signal, it is able to validate it and unlock the doors.

This system is able to resynchronize itself in the event that the fob is accidentally activated away from the vehicle, such as when the owner presses the fob by accident.

Unfortunately, this presents a vulnerability for thieves and hackers as it is possible to exploit the resynchronization process of a consecutive sequence of codes, which will reset the car’s list of stored codes and therefore validate the thief’s signals.

This can potentially be used to lock and unlock the car doors, and even start the engine.

What you can do to keep safe

Vlok warns that citizens with high-end vehicles with special electronic features should take necessary precautions against the possibility that their car is targeted by criminal syndicates.

These precautions include:

  • Installing security tracking solutions
  • Always checking that the vehicle is locked before leaving
  • Being vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times
  • Ensuring that additional security features are specified against the vehicle so that they are not left out of pocket in the event of a total loss

In case of a hijacking attempt, it is also advised that individuals prioritise their own safety and that of their passengers over the value of the vehicle.

Never compromise for an item that is covered by insurance, said Vlok.

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