Incidents of cars being stolen by a car theft syndicate in Kenya have become increasingly rampant. City residents report that these thieves have the capability to disable vehicles’ alarms before making off with them.
In a special report broadcast by Citizen TV, the story revealed that these car owners were caught off guard by the thieves. Kenya, being a third-world country, means that a significant population can afford to buy imported second-hand vehicles or locally used cars.
Lately, a well-coordinated scheme involving several gang members has been targeting individuals living in areas where cars are not well secured.
In an instance covered by Citizen TV’s exposé, a man’s vehicle was stolen when it was left parked outside an apartment in Utawala.
John Magero was unaware that his vehicle had gone missing until he went to check for it the following day. He reported the case to Kayole Police Station, but as days went by, his car (Toyota Axio KDD 969T) vanished into thin air.
The installed tracking device on the car was disabled and that was the last time it was seen.
Statistics from the Association of Kenya Insurers have shown that the theft syndicate primarily focuses on Japanese-made Toyota brands, which are highly sought after by thieves who intend to dismantle them for spare parts.
Toyota vehicles make up 74% of the stolen cars, with models like the Toyota Fielder, Toyota Premio, Toyota Axio, Toyota Allion, and Toyota Probox being particularly attractive to car thieves.
Since Toyota is the most commonly driven car brand in Kenya, there is always a ready demand for their parts. Before you can even digest the news your car is stolen, the parts are already on the way to the marketplace.
However, note that if you drive a different car model, you are still not entirely safe. Other vehicles on the radar of these thieves include Nissans, Mazdas, Subarus, Mercedes Benz, Honda, Volkswagen, and Suzukis.
According to AKI statistics, the relative percentages of other models being stolen are Isuzu (5.64%), Nissan (4.33%) and Mitsubishi (3.28%). Other relevant sources disclose that the more expensive a car is, the less attractive it is to a thief, but this isn’t entirely true.
In this article, we take a look at some of the ways you can protect yourself from becoming a statistic of the car theft syndicate in Kenya.
1. Get a comprehensive insurance
Comprehensive coverage is a type of auto insurance that provides protection for your vehicle in the event of various non-collision-related incidents, including car theft.
If your car is stolen, you can file a claim with your insurance company to seek compensation for the value of your vehicle, up to the coverage limits specified in your insurance policy.
This is an optional insurance add-on, but if you are concerned about the risk of your vehicle being stolen, it may be a wise decision to increase your insurance costs and discuss your specific needs with your insurance provider.
2. Safe parking for cars
Car owners, especially those with Toyotas, are strongly advised to prioritize secure parking, preferably within a well-fenced area or in locations with excellent security measures.
Many car theft syndicates target vehicles left parked on the streets or outside unmanned apartment complexes.
Before thieves strike, they often surveil or follow you to understand your daily routines. Sometimes, they might even rent a room nearby and potentially collude with security personnel.
3. Have more than one tracking system
In many cases, car thieves typically search for and disable one tracking system, without considering the possibility that there may be another tracking system installed in the vehicle.
Installing multiple tracking systems provides redundancy and makes it challenging for thieves to evade tracking. This increases the chances of recovering your vehicle in case it gets stolen.
When installing multiple tracking systems, make sure that they are not all provided by the same person or company.
Having different installers or even installing tracking systems yourself, can help minimize the risk of collusion.
4. Fit your vehicle with cut-outs
In an era where car thefts are a concern, cut-outs have continued to become increasingly popular due to their ability to thwart thieves from igniting the car engine and driving off.
Cut-outs are switches strategically placed to disrupt the normal operation of the ignition switch. They are installed in a customized and hidden manner making it difficult for unauthorized individuals to locate and access.
Over time, both people and thieves have become more smarter. Thieves are aware of the common ‘hidden’ locations of cut-outs and can find ways to bypass them easily.
Therefore, it is essential to hire professional installers who can place cut-outs in less predictable and harder-to-access locations.
5. Purchase a Faraday Pouch
A Faraday Pouch, named after the English scientist Michael Faraday who discovered electromagnetic fields, is a special pouch designed to block electromagnetic fields, including RF signals.
Most cars these days come with an electronic key fob, which is always in constant communication with the car via electronic signals.
This key fob allows access to the car when one approaches it and can start the engine (keyless entry) when one is in the car. Each car has its own unique signal embedded into the computer system.
Thieves nowadays exploit the communication between a car and its key fob by intercepting and replicating the signals they receive. This can be done when they are in close proximity to you and your car.
To prevent this from happening, it is advisable to purchase a Faraday pouch. A Faraday pouch is designed to block electromagnetic signals from entering or leaving the pouch.
By using a Faraday pouch, you can prevent thieves from hacking your key fob and using it to make another one (cloning a wireless car key).
Kindly note that these measures listed above are not a full-proof solution to car theft. They can only mitigate the risk of losing your vehicle. Share what other measures one can take to keep off the worrying trend of car thefts in Kenya.