The increase in online shopping during the COVID19 pandemic has prompted concern over the safety of courier services, as criminals look to target courier vehicles. Lansdowne resident Wafeeq Saban and his wife Rizqah witnessed a hijacking of a Ram Hand-to-Hand Services vehicle outside their house on Wednesday when a parcel was delivered shortly after 9am.
In CCTV footage from Saban’s home, two Ram courier staff are seen at the gate of the house, speaking to Rizqah. After she returns from collecting her husband’s ID inside the house, two male suspects accosted the courier staff with a firearm and sped off with the vehicle and one of the courier men.
After analysing the video footage, Wafeeq noticed there had been two vehicles in the street.
“The one vehicle, a Ford Bantum Bakkie, dropped two suspects at the top of the road, who walked to the house. Two men in a Volkswagen Polo kept watch at the other end of the road. All three vehicles drove off after the incident. The Ram vehicle was later found abandoned with the driver unharmed,” he explained.
A frantic Rizqah can be seen closing the gate and running with her child inside the house. She immediately notified the community forum Whatsapp group and the Yorkshire neighbourhood watch responded in a few minutes. An ambulance was dispatched to the scene and Lansdowne SAPS arrived 10 minutes later. Members of the neighbourhood watch took off to chase the Ram vehicle.
“We have to thank Yorkshire Neighbourhood watch for their swift assistance,” added Wafeeq.
This is the second time Saban’s parcel had been stolen, following a similar incident involving a Ram courier vehicle in Pinati Estate in August. Both incidents are under investigation from Ram and the police.
“Ram’s investigating officer said this was the third hijacking targeting the same driver in one week. He believes they could possibly have been followed. The fact that my parcel was hijacked twice is quite serious,” said Wafeeq.
A representative of Ram said counselling was being arranged for the crew. He confirmed that it was the courier’s second hijacking on the route, but could not provide further details.
Lansdowne police spokesperson Sargent Mnyaka confirmed that a case of car-jacking has been opened for investigation and they are searching for the suspects.
“Two males approached the driver, took the vehicle with the driver and stopped in the next road. They took his cellphone and jumped off the bakkie and fled in a black VW Polo and white Ford Bantum bakkie. Nothing was taken from the courier bakkie and no one was hurt,” he explained.
In a recent report by Business Tech, Alex Terblanche, head of Budget Business Insurance has noted an increase in courier vehicle theft.
“We have noticed a spike in courier vehicle theft. In a few of these cases, the vehicles have been recovered but the goods are missing. The fact that the majority of these vans and vehicles are being taken by force or in armed robberies and hijackings is of great concern,” he told the publication.
He explained that the vehicles are most often stolen during ‘off-peak’ traffic hours, with 6% of total thefts occurring between 3-4 am, 8% between 10-11 am and 6% between 3-4 pm.
With an increase in online shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic, Saban had a word of caution to consumers who use courier services.
“Before you open the door or gate, look for activity in your street when you accept the parcel to ensure the delivery guys are not being followed. It’s clear that courier services are now being targeted.”