Remote jammers target shoppers

Criminals in Brackenfell are targeting valuable items left in parked vehicles.

Kuils River police are warning motorists to check their cars are locked to avoid falling prey to thieves using remote-jamming devices.

This comes after two Kuils River women reported encounters this month with what they suspect was remote jamming at Soneike Mall and River Park Shopping Centre in De Kuilen.

Antoinette van Vuuren told Northern News she had tried 11 times to lock her car, parked outside the Soneike Mall, on Tuesday November 26, but each time she had not heard the clicking sound she usually heard when her doors locked.

“I stood there in the parking area waiting for my car to lock, but it didn’t. I then walked around to see if anyone was around and immediately knew I was being watched.”

After walking around in the parking lot for about three minutes she pressed her remote again. This time the car locked.

“I was so puzzled and confused when the car could finally lock. Since then, I have not had problems with my remote, and my car locks normally.”

Roezaan Lewis was at River Park Mall, on Wednesday November 27, when she tried locking her car. When her remote wouldn’t work, she cut short her shopping trip.

When she got home, the locks were again working fine and “the remote has been working fine ever since”.

According to Shingirai Mazivisa, a locksmith in the northern suburbs, the car remote uses a radio frequency to send a signal. Car-jammers block the frequency by either cloning a car key or using a device that blocks wireless communications.

“The criminal presses his remote at the same time as the owner of the vehicle, this blocks the signal.”

Jammers can have a range of 75m which can sometimes affect the whole parking lot at once.

Soneike Mall management did not respond to questions about security before this edition went to print

Kuils River police station commander Colonel Jaycee Naidoo said there were 33 theft-out-of-motor-vehicle cases last month and 14% were possible remote-jamming incidents.

Cars were targeted between 3pm and 7pm when parked outside malls and shopping centres, he said.

“Members of the public are encouraged to lock their cars manually and make sure not to trust the remote-locking system,” he said.

“In most of these cases, the people walk away from their vehicles before activating the alarm/ immobiliser and press from a distance.”

He said police regularly patrolled hot spots, such as Soneike Mall, Zevenwacht Mall, Kuils River CBD and Van Riebeeck Road.