Aon South Africa (insurance company) has reported a sharp increase in the number of car remote jamming reports coming into the insurance broker’s customer call centre over the last four weeks. Hardest hit areas include Gauteng’s northern suburbs, while schools and quieter shopping centres seem to be the criminals’ preferred hunting ground.

“Over the last month we have noted a 25-30% increase in reported incidents, but expect the real figures to be significantly more as many victims don’t bother to report the crime to their insurer as any resultant loss is usually not covered under an insurance policy unless there are signs of forced or violent entry,” explains Mandy Barrett of Aon South Africa.

Remote jamming involves the blocking of car remotes using a household remote. Both car and household remotes operate at a 400 megahertz frequency and criminals effectively prevent the locking action of the car from being activated. They then have easy access to the vehicle and your valuables without any forced entry.

“Parking areas outside schools are being targeted as these are particularly easy pickings for criminals as many parents leave valuables such as handbags, wallets, iPads and laptops in their cars while they walk their children into school. Quieter shopping centres with less security are also a favourite hunting ground.

“Your only real defense against falling victim to jamming is to mitigate your risk by being aware of the practice and personally checking that your doors are locked. Make sure you hear the beep of your alarm system and the audible sound of the locking mechanism. Then physically check your doors and boot to make sure. It goes without saying that your valuables should be kept in your boot and out of sight. Always park in a safe area, preferably with plenty of people about, where security guards are in place and the area is well lit,” adds Mandy.

According to the SAPS, of the 40 cases of theft from vehicles reported in Sandton each week during January this year, at least 85 percent were thefts in which jamming took place. If one looks at the average value of items stolen at R12 000 for a laptop, cellphone and handbag contents, losses are easily estimated to be in excess of R1.2million per month. “We believe this amount is conservative as many cases go unreported as victims are unable to claim from their insurance without proof of forcible entry,” says Mandy

Your best defence is to take precautions:

• Conceal any items left in your vehicle or better still, take them with you
• Check that all doors and windows are locked before you walk away from your vehicle
• Park your vehicle in a high traffic area close to the entrance to shopping malls where there are plenty of people about
• Park where security guards are visible
• Ensure the area is well lit at night
The reality is that jamming is being executed by professional gangs and motorists will need to remain vigilant to prevent falling victim to this scam. Finally, check your policy wordings as products such as By Design and By Preference offer cover under the specified all risks section of the policy.

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