Prevention is key to end remote jamming

STAFF REPORTER

Remote jamming is a method of breaking into vehicles that will become increasingly popular because it attracts very little attention, so prevention is key to ensuring that your valuables stay safe.

That’s according to Muneeb Hendricks, safety and security manager of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), who says this method of breaking into vehicles is particularly worrying because most insurance companies will not pay out unless there is physical proof that a theft has occurred.

The matter is of such concern that the CCID has made it a focal point of its current “Stash it, don’t flash it” campaign.

Commenting on a video that recently appeared on YouTube showing how easily this type of break-in is achieved, Mr Hendricks said: “One of the biggest problems with remote jamming is that it has made breaking into motor vehicles a simple daytime crime, whereas before if one had to break into a vehicle with force, it was mostly done under cover of darkness.

“During the day, business people, especially, tend to carry more valuables in their vehicles such as laptops and tablets so the loss is that much greater.”

Remote jamming works very simply. When a driver presses their remote to lock their vehicle, a thief close by will be repeatedly pressing a hidden remote device of their own that overwhelms the airwaves in the area and blocks the driver’s remote signal to the car.

Said Mr Hendricks: “If you simply beep the remote while walking away and you don’t physically check that the vehicle is locked, there is a fair chance that it might in fact not be.

“It is imperative that you physically try to open the door yourself before you walk away.

“Otherwise, once the driver has walked away from the car, the thief then simply walks up, opens the door and helps himself to whatever valuables happen to be inside. Unless someone happens to be paying particular notice to the driver who left the vehicle, the thief looks perfectly legitimate opening the door and entering.”

Mr Hendricks said there are several ways for vehicle owners to safeguard themselves against this type of crime:

* Always physically check that your vehicle is locked once you have locked it with a remote.

* Keep all valuables out of sight in the vehicle’s boot.

* Even better, stash your valuables before you park; place them in the boot before you start your journey, not once you arrive at your destination where someone may be watching.

* If for some reason you are unable to lock your vehicle, rather park it in another location.

Mr Hendricks said the CCID and other law enforcement partners within the Central City are in talks with the National Prosecuting Authority to have remote jamming devices recognised as car break-in implements, which will make simply carrying them around a criminal offence.

“In the Central City all of our CCID public safety officers (PSOs) are also specifically trained to notice as far as possible who climbs out of which vehicle, and to warn drivers to check their doors when they park.

“PSOs are also vigilant about people simply hanging around waiting for cars to park, and we have conducted awareness drives about remote jamming with pamphlet distributions.”

Mr Hendricks advised that if you do fall victim to remote jamming, to follow through with more than just a police report and to ensure your vehicle is finger-printed.

“That way when the culprit is caught, SAPS will be able to make the link and the person can be charged with multiple counts of breaking into motor vehicles, rather than just the one for which he happened to be caught.”

Mr Hendricks said the CCID is very aware of the potential growth of this type of crime in the downtown area and with its law enforcement partners are determined to make Cape Town’s CBD a remote jamming-free zone.