The scourge of carjacking – The Manila Times Online

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MUNMUN NATH

Last week, a Grab driver, Gerardo Amolato Maquidato Jr., got shot by a person who posed as a passenger, who then fled with the vehicle. It’s a cause for alarm as Grab Philippines is said to have at least six confirmed cases of carjacking incidents in 2017.

According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), carjacking constituted 7 percent (9,323 cases) of total annual crimes in 2016, but there was a 28 percent reduction from 2015 (12,900 cases). In 2016, of the total 9,323 cases reported, 1,526 vehicles were recovered, 1,117 suspects were arrested, and 862 cases were filed in courts.

It is interesting to note here that the crime of carjacking is not just limited to stealing the car. The 2016 Philippines Anti-Carnapping Act covers the following activities:

• defacing or tampering with a serial number on any part of the vehicle;

• repainting the vehicle to change the color as registered with the Land Transportation Office (LTO);

• “body-building” or “remodeling” to change part or the entire shape or form of the body;

• dismantling parts or overhauling the whole engine;

• transferring vehicle plates without approval of the LTO; and

• sale of used spare parts obtained from a carjacked vehicle.

For criminal syndicates, carjacking is often the first step in the world of crime. Selling off the car parts can be a source of quick cash. The stolen car can be used for other crimes such as robberies and transporting drugs.

Carjackers are opportunistic; victims are not often targeted by sex, race or age. Hence a large number of carjacking incidents tend to happen during the late hours or early mornings, and in areas outside the business districts of Manila.

One of my Grab drivers said that the common modus operandi of these gangs in Manila was to monitor sparsely populated spots where pick-ups typically happen. Gang members dress well and wait at these spots, usually at night, and when a car shows up they tend to identify it as Grab or Uber because of the smartphone on the dashboard. They knock on the window and pretend to be the rider. Once they are let in, it’s easy for them to overpower the driver, often with just an ice-pick.

How does one avoid carjacking? The first line of defense is to be vigilant when letting people inside the car, especially in secluded areas. Grab has ordered its driver-partners to ask riders to show a personal identification card before starting the trip. Automotive journalist James Deakin shared this idea on his Facebook page – “Verified [Grab/Uber] accounts should have a minimum requirement that includes at least 2 forms of government ID. Better if it can be linked to a bank account or debit/credit card. These accounts could and should have a blue tick.”

Technology can be the second line of defense against these crimes and Grab is reported to be working on this aspect as well. Alarms and other devices that are triggered when a person forces open car doors must be installed. One can also install a hidden master switch that disrupts the flow of electricity at the battery or ignition switch level, or disables the fuel pump to prevent carjackers from driving away. GPS-based equipment in the car can help to track its location.

In many other countries, having safety devices like alarms or GPS tracking makes drivers eligible for a discount on auto insurance. However, in the Philippines, in an absence of a risk-based underwriting process, these factors are usually not taken into consideration. Nonetheless, having comprehensive car insurance should cover part of your losses in case of theft or carjacking. For more information on comprehensive car insurance coverage in case of theft, please visit www.moneymax.ph/car-insurance/comprehensive.

Munmun Nath is the managing director of MoneyMax.ph, the Philippines’ leading comparison website for insurance, credit cards and loans. To save money through free and fair financial information, tweet @MoneyMaxPH, like us on Facebook at MoneyMax.ph, and email your to Munmun.nath@moneymax.ph. For more information, visit our website: www.MoneyMax.ph.





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