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Cross-Border Stolen Vehicle Tracking: How to Keep Your Vehicle Safe

In a world that is more interconnected than ever, the issue of cross-border hijackings has emerged as a significant worry for both vehicle and fleet owners. 

In this blog, we delve into how technology advancements such as GPS tracking devices can help combat this problem. 

In this article, you will:

  • Understand why vehicle protection is a must
  • Unpack ways to protect your car from hijackings
  • Unlock the top 5 benefits of stolen vehicle recovery
  • Find out which company has the highest stolen vehicle recovery rate in South Africa

Cross-border vehicle theft rises: Why you need to protect your car?

Cross-border vehicle theft — the criminal act involving the theft of a vehicle in one country and transported over the border to another. In South Africa alone, vehicle theft and hijackings stand out as one of the most reported crimes in the country, with an astonishing average of one vehicle being hijacked every 22 minutes. To put this into perspective, that’s roughly the time it takes for a quick lunch with a friend, running quick errands at the shopping mall, a short cardio session, or even having a catch-up call with a loved one. In essence, 22 minutes is a short amount of time and we get quite a few of them in a 24-hour day.

Out of the estimated annual R8.5 billion worth of vehicles that are stolen within South Africa, an alarming R4.9 billion were transported across the South African borders to be sold in neighbouring countries. With approximately 5,800 kilometres of border lines surrounding South Africa, eight major harbours, and a mere 53 land border posts to monitor the passage of vehicles into and out of the country, cross-border vehicle theft remains a significant contributor to vehicle loss in the nation. This means, you and I stand an even lower chance of recovering our vehicles, should they ever get stolen.

You’re probably wondering what happens to the other remainder. Approximately R3.1 billion are cloned, while R514 million end up stripped and sold in scrap shops across the country. So whether in or out of the country individuals, businesses, or fleet industries still take a massive knock. For example, in 2013, around 39,000 vehicles resurfaced within the system, causing significant financial burdens for insurance companies that had to cover claims without realising that these vehicles were duplicates.As one of the only countries in the region that manufactures vehicles, South Africa will remain the primary target for cross-border hijackings with 1 in every 3 hijacked vehicles being illegally exported via ports of entry and exit as well as border lines. Thanks to advancements in technology, protecting your vehicle from both domestic hijackings and cross-border risks is possible.


Safety measures to minimise the risk of being hijacked:

There are many practical ways to protect yourself from hijackings:

  • Beware of your surroundings when parking your vehicle 
  • Keep alert when entering your vehicle 
  • Be cautious while on the road 
  • Check you are not being followed 
  • If being followed home, do not wait in your driveway
  • Check the street when approaching your home 
  • Be vigilant when entering your driveway


While all these practical measures can be effective, technology offers the highest level of safety for your vehicle, even in the unfortunate event of a hijacking. Installing a GPS tracking device in your vehicle offers you comprehensive protection whether you are driving or parked. This Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking device does this by integrating with the GPS satellite network to determine the exact location of your vehicle anytime, anywhere for personal vehicle security, fleet management or even asset tracking.

Here are 5 basic components of a GPS tracking device that will help make the likelihood of recovering your vehicle much greater, domestically and across the border:

  • GPS receivers: This component picks up signals from many GPS satellites to provide an accurate 4-metre location of your car, helping you accurately pinpoint the location of your car at any given time, even if it crosses the border. 
  • Satellite or cellular communication: Many GPS tracking devices are equipped with cellular or satellite communication. This allows the tracking device to ‘communicate’ with you via an app on your smartphone, or software platform. This way, you get the real-time location of your vehicle(s) and are notified when your vehicle has been moved without your authorization. 
  • Backup Battery: GPS trackers can be powered by internal batteries, a vehicle's power system, or other power sources. A back-up battery can be added to keep your tracking device operational, sending location data, even if your vehicle’s main power source is disconnected.
  • International Coverage: A global fleet management solution can offer cross-border GPS tracking with a wide-ranging coverage including support for multiple countries and global positioning, to track your car's location accurately, regardless of its location.
  • Geofencing: Vehicle tracking companies provide this type of feature. It allows you to create virtual boundaries on a map to receive notifications when your vehicle crosses these boundaries. This is also a handy way to be alerted if your vehicle enters or exits borders, hijacking hotspots or dangerous areas so you can react early on.

Thanks to these components, GPS tracking can provide you with an extra layer of protection. However, what if your vehicle is stolen even after all this effort? That’s where stolen vehicle recovery comes into play.

Stolen vehicle recovery: Top 4 benefits of SVR


The most effective way to get your vehicle back before it’s taken across the border, cloned, or stripped for parts, is by signing up for stolen vehicle recovery services with a reputable provider like Cartrack Kenya.

This concept of stolen vehicle recovery (also known as SVR) involves utilising the installed GPS tracking device in your vehicle to promptly alert and dispatch a recovery team in the unfortunate event of theft, thereby significantly increasing the chances of retrieving your stolen car.

Here are the top 4 benefits of stolen vehicle recovery:

  1. Quick recovery: In the unfortunate event that your vehicle is stolen, the tracking technology enables a swift response by sending real-time alerts to a recovery team. This increases the chances of recovering your vehicle before significant damage occurs or it is taken across the border and out of reach. 
  2. Peace of mind:  Stolen vehicle recovery services give you an additional layer of protection. Whether at home, work, or travelling, you can be confident about your vehicle's security, knowing that your vehicle is equipped with GPS tracking technology that can deter potential hijackers and vehicle recovery services that can minimise the likelihood of theft.

  3. 24/7/365 vehicle tracking: Stolen vehicle recovery services offer round-the-clock vehicle monitoring. This means your vehicle is being watched even when you're not actively checking its location, ensuring a more proactive approach to react fast in case of suspicious activity and minimise loss.

  4. Real-time alerts: You can receive alerts straight on your phone when any unusual movement or tampering of your vehicle is detected. This allows you to act promptly and inform the authorities if needed.

Now that we have an understanding of stolen vehicle recovery, the real question is which stolen vehicle recovery and GPS tracking provider to go for. I always say, nothing less than the best.

The highest stolen vehicle recovery rate in South Africa:

Cartrack is dedicated to providing every customer, locally and globally with world-class vehicle security. It’s no wonder they have the highest audited vehicle recovery rate of over 90%.

Our SVR aims to provide you with comprehensive protection for your vehicles with our cutting-edge features:

  • Advanced vehicle tracking device fitment

    We schedule a free vehicle tracking fitment. Cartrack’s advanced fitment techniques provide high confidence that hijackers will find it difficult to discover or deactivate your vehicle’s tracking device. This sophisticated installation allows us to achieve our industry-leading stolen vehicle recovery rate.
  • Cross-border SVR

    The Cartrack tracking unit features international roaming, allowing tracking both locally and abroad. In areas with no GPRS/GSM coverage, the device can store up to 5000 positions and events, such as ignition changes, every 3 km of travel, or deviations of 10 degrees or more. These data points are transmitted once GPRS/GSM communication is re-established.
  • CarWatch

    CarWatch is an early warning system you activate at the touch of a button from Cartrack’s app. It will alert you and Cartrack in advance the moment your parked vehicle is moved without your authorisation. This allows Cartrack to proactively send a response team to your vehicle and increase the chances of recovery. Additionally, our Cartrack control room agents will promptly contact you to check in and provide assistance in case of a hijacking.
  • Back-up battery

    A reliable vehicle tracking device with a long-lasting battery increases the likelihood of recovering your vehicle. Cartrack's internal backup battery comes into play when the vehicle's battery is disconnected or fully discharged, providing up to an extra 4 to 5 hours of power. This gives us ample time to track and recover your vehicle.
  • Geofencing

    Cartrack empowers you to establish geofences, including border entry and exit points. These virtual boundaries can be customised to designate no-go or high-risk zones, and you'll receive instant alerts as soon as your vehicle enters or exits these geofenced areas.
  • 24/7/365 control room support

    Our emergency control response team is ready to support you 24/7/365, especially in the unfortunate event of vehicle theft or hijacking. We also allow direct communication with the private response teams and local police to ensure a rapid response.
  • Air and ground recovery teams

    Cartrack maintains a skilled air and ground recovery response network in South Africa and neighbouring regions, collaborating closely with local law enforcement to ensure swift and successful vehicle recoveries in case of theft.
  • Limited recovery warranty

    Enjoy complete peace of mind knowing that in the unlikely event, we’re unable to recover your stolen vehicle, we will pay you up to R150 000 (terms and conditions apply).


SVR: Recent successful stolen vehicle recoveries

Cartrack’s reputation is built on delivering results. Our skilled recovery team intercepted the stolen vehicle along the Mozambique border, expertly uncovering the attempted disguise on the stolen bakkie which was camouflaged and packed under heaps of straw, in the hope it would go undetected (watch here). Additionally, in July 2023 alone, we achieved outstanding results, recovering vehicles, collaborating with law enforcement, and leading to the arrest of 67 suspects linked to vehicle theft, we also seized 8 firearms and confiscated 15 signal jammers.


Protect your vehicle locally and beyond borders with Cartrack

With the highest audited recovery rate, Cartrack stands as your unwavering choice for stolen vehicle recovery.

Contact Cartrack Kenya today and get vehicle tracking that goes above and beyond.

With national and cross-border hijackings on the rise, there has never been a more crucial time to ensure the safety of your vehicle. Read on to learn how.