Car Smugglers on the Rise: How to Best Protect Your Vehicle

Criminals are getting smarter by the day by joining forces with those across our borders to make even bigger sales. Some of the cars stolen or hijacked around Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, and Kwa-Zulu-Natal are cleverly smuggled into our neighbouring countries.  

Let's see which of the 6 countries we border South African cars go to and how you can protect yours.

In this article, you will:

  • Learn about the different borders that South African cars are smuggled out of
  • Discover the different types of vehicle anti-theft devices
  • See how Cartrack can maximise your vehicle’s security

Which countries are South African cars smuggled into?

KZN to Mozambique

The first five kilometers of a solid concrete fence along the borders of the Umkhayakude village in northern Kwa-Zulu-Natal and Mozambique is currently under way; however, despite that, criminals are now building makeshift steel bridges that they can use to drive the stolen vehicles over the fence.

Limpopo to Zimbabwe

The Limpopo River is 1.6 kilometers long and runs through three  other countries. Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Mozambique. At low tide, high-powered stolen vehicles are driven across the river to be sold. It is also said that locals with donkeys are paid a small fee to drag the cars across the river.  

Northern Cape to Namibia

Vehicles stolen in the northern cape are trafficked through the Vioolsdrift crossing into Namibia. Two months ago, a man driving a suspected stolen vehicle, headed towards the Namibia border was arrested, the vehicle was valued at R1.1 million, and found inside the vehicle was R9500 worth of unprocessed gold. 

North West to Botswana

The Sikwane border located in the North West, is used to smuggle vehicles into Botswana. It is believed that Botswana is used as a transit to smuggle stolen vehicles into Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Once in Botswana, the vehicles are fitted with false Zambia registrations under the pretext that they are returning to Zambia.

Zambia to the rest of Africa

Zambia is the link to all other African countries as it shares its borders with eight different countries; Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Tanzania, Angola, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

This makes it the main attraction for syndicates to traffic stolen vehicles in large quantities to different parts of the continent. When vehicles are stolen from South Africa to neighboring countries, the vehicle registrations are changed so they can “quietly” cross over to Zambia.

Which countries are South African cars smuggled into

Cars that are most likely to be taken across the borders

Big cars such as 4x4s and SUVs can withstand the strain caused while crossing the border and are strong enough to be driven through sharp fences, bumpy roads, waters, and mountains. They are also in demand in war-ridden countries or countries without proper road infrastructure.

What can you do to protect yourself

There’s no guarantee that thieves won’t try with your car, no matter the make or model, so the only thing you can do is to put in some protective measures to make it harder for them and hopefully chase them away. Here are some of the best vehicle anti-theft devices:

  1. Steering wheel lock: An oldie, but a goodie. These have been around for the longest time, and it seems modern-day society has forgotten about them. Steering wheel locks have been proven to be one of the best anti-theft devices as they prevent your steering wheel from turning. Thieves may be able to break into your car and start the car, but they won’t get far if the steering wheel isn’t working. They come in different designs and are very affordable.
  2. Immobiliser: Thieves often try to start cars with a different key. An immobiliser is an electrical device that helps prevent the engine from being started by disabling key components such as the ignition or start motor. Your car will only start when it receives the correct code from the key. Modern cars already have immobilisers built into their keys and require the keys to be nearby. Vehicles with keyless start functions use a different code each time they start.
  3. Gear lock system: Another old-school gadget that still works. Gear locks prevent your car from going into gear and moving. They are very much visible which discourages most car thieves because removing them will take time, and might get them caught before going anywhere. To suit the latest vehicle models, internal gear locks are concealed in the gear lever console to complement the vehicle’s interior.
  4. Kill Switch: Installing an automotive kill switch into your battery, ignition or fuel line can save four car from theft as it prevents it from starting. When the switch is “off,” it interrupts the electrical or fuel supply to the engine, preventing it from running.
  5. Faraday pouch: Keyless car keys continually emit a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) signal, this means there is no on/off switch and thieves can pick up the signal at any given time. A faraday pouch is lined with specially made fabric that helps the signal from being emitted from your key fob; making it difficult, if not impossible for criminals to pick it up and clone it to get into your car.
  6. Gps tracking device: It is always better to try and prevent theft from happening, but what happens if criminals somehow manage to bypass all of the above-mentioned measures? A GPS tracking device is your best bet to getting your car back as it will give you real-time data detailing the exact location of your vehicle. A good GPS tracking device is one that can locat and recover your vehicle even when out of the country - Cartrack.

What can you do to protect yourself

Let Cartrack be your choice of added security

Here’s how Cartrack will ease your mind and give your vehicle an extra layer of protection:


Whether in your city or out of the country - Cartrack is always watching

Cartrack has an over 90% recovery rate and is trusted by over 2 million subscribers worldwide. We are the leading force in stolen vehicle recovery, so contact us today

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