Anti-Hijacking Devices: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Published: 9 Jun 2003
By Theresa O'Connell
Everyone who has ever lived in, or traveled to South Africa knows that driving a vehicle can be harrowing experience. Harrowing firstly due to the hell-raising and aggressive driving habits of South African motorists in general, and secondly, the frightening high probability of being hijacked, even in broad daylight. South Africans endure almost 15,000 vehicle hijackings each year, while more than 110,000 vehicles are reported stolen annually. The problem has become so common that businesses are providing anti-carjack training as part of routine employee training.
The growing fear of becoming yet another victim of a vehicle hijacking has created a lucrative and growing market for anti-carjack systems that are unconventional, innovative and often drastic.
Vehicle tracking systems are one of the more conventional methods of monitoring hijacked vehicles in South Africa. The high cost associated with this technology when it was first introduced in the country in the mid-90s, initially limited its use to expensive commercial vehicles and luxury passenger cars. With time the cost of tracking technology has come down and today it is not uncommon for vehicles on the low-to-medium end of the price spectrum to be fitted with tracking devices. Once a vehicle owner reports his vehicle as stolen, the tracking service provider sends a signal via satellite to radio transmitters, which in turn activate the transponder fitted to the body of the vehicle. The location of the activated vehicle is monitored by a global positioning system, which transmits signals from the transponder to the control unit. Police vehicles, helicopters or border posts fitted with special tracking computers can also detect an activated signal from a stolen vehicle and participate in the recovery process.

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