Compared to other countries SA fares well with regard to vehicle crime

09 March 2021 - 11:14
By Motoring Staff
Australia, Canada, USA, England and Wales all have a higher theft rate per 100,000 population than SA, while only Ireland and the Netherlands are lower.
Image: Jaromir Chalabala / 123rf Australia, Canada, USA, England and Wales all have a higher theft rate per 100,000 population than SA, while only Ireland and the Netherlands are lower.

South Africans often perceive our country as experiencing high levels of crime, especially when compared to other countries.

This was demonstrated by the Numbeo.com Crime Index by City 2021 survey when citizens ranked six SA cities among the global top 20 most dangerous cities. The respondents perceived the overall level of crime in Pretoria, Durban and Johannesburg  as being very high.

However, when it comes to vehicle theft, including hijackings, SA fares well when compared to developed countries.

Based on statistics aggregated by Australia’s National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council from in-country police and crime reports*, at 109, SA has one of the lowest rates of vehicle theft per 100,000 population.

Theft rate per 100,000 population.
Image: Supplied Theft rate per 100,000 population.

New Zealand is at the top with a high theft rate of 636 per 100,000 population. This is more than double to 10 times the theft rate of the other countries analysed.

Australia, Canada, USA, England and Wales all have a higher theft rate per 100,000 population than SA, while only Ireland and the Netherlands are lower.

To account for diverse reporting standards across the countries, including variations in reporting timing, the number of vehicles and population size, it is best to index the country numbers to a common point and measure performance from that point.

Theft rate per 100,000 population indexed to 2015.
Image: Supplied Theft rate per 100,000 population indexed to 2015.

When indexed to 2015, SA still has a lower vehicle theft rate than most of the other countries, and its theft rate has decreased by 13% over the past five years. 

England and Wales have seen the greatest increase in theft rate, to 26% more than five years ago. New Zealand and Australia have seen an uptick in vehicle theft going into 2020.

“It is encouraging that SA is fighting the scourge of vehicle crime, and this could be attributed to our well-established vehicle tracking services,” says Duma Ngcobo, chief operating officer at Tracker SA.

“However, it is important that we don’t become complacent as the downward trend could quickly turn. Remain vigilant and be on the lookout for suspicious persons or vehicles, whether driving or parking your car. By doing so, we could contribute to decreasing the vehicle crime numbers even more.”

Note to readers: This article was updated on March 9 2021 to reflect that this survey creates a skewed picture of real car crime as it doesn't account for the fact that a far smaller percentage of the SA population owns cars than in the other countries surveyed.