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Wednesday / 19 June 2024
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New hijacking trend emerges in South Africa’s biggest province

The Hawks Priority Crime Investigation unit has warned of a new hijacking syndicate operating in the Northern Cape that targets both hitchhikers and well-meaning motorists who offer rides to roadside travellers.

Hawks spokesperson Nomthandazo Mnisi told SABC News said there are two modus operandi for these criminals.

In one, they will pretend to be a hitchhiker and proceed to rob a motorist as soon as they stop next to the road. In the other, they will act as the driver who is offering the lift and rob the hitchhiker once they are inside the vehicle.

“The warning comes after carjacking cases were recently registered at Hartswater SAPS, and similar cases were registered by Kuruman SAPS all in the same month. These could be the work of a syndicate operating in the two districts,” said Mnisi.

Taxis in Kimberley have started operating in known areas where these incidents are taking place to help those who may be able to afford to pay a taxi fare instead of risking being robbed, BusinessTech reports.

Northern Cape police spokesperson Sergio Kock said his department is aware of the syndicate and will introduce preventative measures in an effort to catch the perpetrators, including random vehicle checkpoints, roadblocks, and vehicle and foot patrols in the targeted areas.

Meanwhile, the Hawks advise all motorists not to stop for any hitchhikers, and for those who must catch lifts from a stranger, to do so in groups whenever possible.

Don’t let down your guard

Should you become a victim of car theft or hijacking, and someone calls you to notify you that your car was found, be highly skeptical of their claims.

CrimeWatch’s Yusuf Abramjee recently highlighted that criminals are now reportedly using contacts within the police force to get inside information on car theft victims to scam them out of their money.

They will obtain details such as your case number, full name, contact info, address, and vehicle particulars including the number plate and VIN, and use this to phone you and claim they are a police officer who has found your car.

They will then ask that you send them a “fee” to tow the vehicle back to your house – which generally ranges between R2,000 to R3,000 – and after sending it, you will never hear from them again.

“If your vehicle is stolen or hijacked, and you get a call or message from a ‘police officer’ saying the vehicle has been recovered, be very wary,” said Abramjee.

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