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HomeFeaturesVW knows its cars’ headlights are being stolen in South Africa – and is working to stop it

VW knows its cars’ headlights are being stolen in South Africa – and is working to stop it

The theft of headlights from VW vehicles in South Africa, especially Polo and Polo Vivo models, has rapidly increased in recent years and VW is aware of the issue and working on finding a solution.

Initially, VW badges and hubcaps were the main targets for thieves and they were primarily active in Johannesburg and the surrounding areas, but it has now spread to also stealing headlights, grilles, and bumpers, and crimes of this kind have been reported all over the country.

Speaking on 702, journalist Ernest Page said he got in contact with VW in 2023 regarding this situation, and the automaker confirmed that it has thus far not been able to curb these crimes effectively.

However, it said it is actively looking at several initiatives to address the theft of components from its customers’ cars, including changes in the local manufacturing and parts supply divisions.

JMPD VW Polo headlights stolen. Source: CrimeInSA

Why VW cars are being targeted

It is not only VW’s cars whose parts are being taken without permission, but it certainly is one of the most targeted automakers for this type of crime.

The main reasons for this include the fact that VW is the second-best-selling car brand in the country so it comes as no surprise that its components are in high demand both in the legal and illegal markets.

Exacerbating the issue, parts on the vehicles are rather easy to remove and generally only require one or two tools, and for the more seasoned criminals, just a few minutes of the owner being away from their car.

There are also legal loopholes being taken advantage of.

Under the Second-Hand Goods Act, if you were, for example, to sell scrap metal to a dealer you must be able to verify where you found it, where you live, and show proof of ID before you are allowed to trade it, which is a piece of legislation that was instituted to reduce metal theft in the country.

However, if you arrive at a panel beater with a loose “second-hand” headlamp on your passenger seat and ask them to refit it for you, most of them will do so no questions asked as there is no law that says you have to prove where you got it.

Much of the responsibility to stop this from happening in the future lies with VW, however, as there is no guarantee that another law that clamps down on used part dealing will have any effect on the black market where car components are in higher demand than scrap metal.

Headline image: Intelligence Bureau SA



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