South Africa: Car auto-lock traps 'car thief' in vehicle

By News from Elsewhere... reports from around the world, found by BBC Monitoring

Image source, The Star
Image caption,
The man spent nearly two hours trapped in the vehicle he was allegedly trying to steal

A man has been arrested in South Africa after the auto-lock system of the car he allegedly broke into self-activated and trapped him inside.

The man used a jamming device to get into the vehicle, which was parked near the North Gauteng High Court in the capital city Pretoria, The Star newspaper reports. "I just saw him getting into the car after the woman walked away," a witness says. "It seems the doors locked him inside and he couldn't get out."

Apparently the man started to panic and asked passers-by for help, saying he was one of the city's many car guards. The police were called in, but the man was stuck inside for more than an hour-and-a-half before the owner returned and unlocked the vehicle.

Car theft is a big problem for South Africa. Reports say that 8.5bn rand ($776m; £482m) worth of vehicles are stolen in the country every year. Almost 30% are taken to neighbouring countries, and the rest are resold in South Africa after being "cloned" in car "chop shops".

"Cloned vehicle and cross-border syndicates are a growing concern," says Hugo van Zyl, head of the South African Insurance Crime Bureau, "thanks to our porous borders and the fact that crime prevention stakeholders aren't yet pooling resources effectively."

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