Crime levels spike, but hijackings down

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Bryte Insurance has released its latest crime-tracker report, for the period July to September 2018. The highest growth in crime levels occurred in the third quarter last year, peaking at 30.3% following a 13.5% acceleration in the second quarter. The tracker, which indicates long-term crime trends in South Africa as captured by insurance claims, indicates that crimes against businesses have increased consistently since the first quarter of 2018. Stagnant economic growth, a rising unemployment rate and the increased cost of living are likely factors.

“Incidents of crime tend to spike ahead of school breaks as people go on holiday and unoccupied buildings are often left vulnerable to attacks by criminals,” says Cloud Saungweme, Chief Claims Officer at Bryte. “Business owners need to exercise more caution when making information about their whereabouts publicly available on social media platforms, as oversharing could leave them and their businesses exposed.”

The crime-tracker report also noted a drastic decline in incidents of hijacking/theft by force in the third quarter, with a 45% deceleration year-on-year (the biggest contraction since the third quarter in 2016). Bryte says that the deployment of strategic SAPS resources to enhance police visibility at various crime hotspots has likely helped in this regard. Incidents of malicious damage also decreased considerably in the third quarter (a 44.9% contraction).

Sadly, levels of theft spiked, accelerating by 32.5% year-on-year, in stark contrast to decelerations noted during the same periods in the third quarters in 2016 and 2017.

“Job losses can aggravate crime levels, especially petty theft, as people desperately seek alternative means of survival,” says Saungweme. “However, it is important to note that not all theft is visible. We have seen many incidents of cybercrime unfold in 2018 and predication have been made that, globally, cybercrime will cost businesses approximately $2 trillion in 2019 alone.”

Bryte suggests that business owners adopt a multifaceted approach to safeguarding their businesses – conduct regular risk assessments, reduce the amount of merchandise on hand, remove large amounts of money from the premises and install security mechanisms in and around the business. Sharing information with Community Watch Forums and alerting business peers can also help to fight against crime. Staying abreast of key cyber developments and designing agile insurance solutions that protect customers is also important.