Business and Technology

Here is how thieves are stealing vehicles using tap-tap technique

Experts are warning about the latest technique of tap-tap vehicle theft in South Africa. In just the first quarter of 2024, the South African Police Service (SAPS) received reports of 5 511 stolen or hijacked vehicles. Do the math and that is 1 800 per month, 60 per day, or three every one-and-a-half hours.

Top of mind for authorities is the rise in tap-tap vehicle theft in South Africa. Vehicle-tracking specialists Ctrack say thieves are starting to favour this high-tech method with more modern cars, reports TopAuto. So, what exactly is tap-rap vehicle theft in South Africa?

Also Read: Watch: This Is How Criminals Are Using Technology To Steal Cars


tap-tap vehicle theft in South Africa
With the right know-how, criminals can use fairly simple digital devices to gain access to your vehicle. Image: File

The tap-tap technique is a signal-relay or cloned-device attack. It is aimed at the latest vehicles with high-tech keyless entry and start systems. This technology relies on a wireless transmitter that senses the signal from a vehicle’s key fob. Even inexperienced criminals are becoming more adept at using these signal relay devices.

These devices trick the vehicle system so the criminal can gain entry and start the car without the key. It takes two people to pull of tap-tap vehicle theft in South Africa. One of the thieves possesses a device that captures the key’s signal. Suspect number two then uses another device to relay it back to a vehicle when the owner is no longer around.

Video: Security Researcher on YouTube

A modern vehicle’s key emits digital signals that lock, unlock and start the engine. By using cloning devices, thieves can save and manipulate these signals. Thus, effectively creating a copy of your key. You can protect yourself from attack by keeping your key in a protective Faraday Pouch.


Crime stats
Crime stats reveal the most targeted places for hijackings are personal driveways. Image: File

As always, there are less high-tech ways that criminals will use to continue stealing cars in South African. Ctrack says you should exercise caution in the following instances:

  • More than 70% of victims are hijacked in their own driveway. So, if you suspect you’re being followed, do not go home. They’ve almost certainly tracked your movements and know your routines.
  • Another is if someone drives into you. They might bump into your vehicle on purpose and when you stop to check the damage and swap insurance info, your car will be hijacked.
  • Criminal syndicates have smartened to the latter idea and even employ female drivers so as to not raise suspicion. If you suspect this is happening to you and you feel unsafe, it’s best to drive directly to the nearest SAPS station.


stolen South African cars
Zimbabwe is growing in popularity for stolen South African cars that need to be shifted cross border quickly. Image: SAPS Limpopo/Fotor

At last count, only 30% of vehicle theft suspects were arrested, taken to court and sentenced. This inability of the under-resourced SAPS to make inroads into vehicle crime has only emboldened criminals; as if they will face no real consequences for their actions.

Earlier in the year, SAPS boss Bheki Cele praised the recovery of 64 stolen vehicles and 140 arrests over the border with Mozambique. This was the result of one full year of work by a cross-border task force. However, this barely accounts for the number of cars stolen in one day in Mzansi. Therefore, there is clearly more work that needs to be done to stop vehicle crime in South Africa.

Source- The South African

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