Smash-and-grab incidents, particularly at high-activity intersections, remain an issue, says Charnel Hattingh, National Marketing and Communications Manager for Fidelity ADT.
“It is important that motorists keep valuables in the boot and remain vigilant,” she says.
She warns that just because there are many cars in an intersection, it does not mean you are safe. In fact, this is where people are being caught totally off-guard because they are occupied with their phones during stop-and-move stages during the traffic.
Keep your boot locked at all times, otherwise it is very easy while you are parked in traffic for the criminals to just open your boot and grab and run. Criminals are becoming very shrewd and know that when people drive, they sometimes forget that their boot is still open if it does not automatically lock.
Even then, you need to stay alert as criminals know that people keep valuables such as handbags, laptops, sports bags in the boot of their car these days.
“They are now going as far as forcing motorists to open their boot whilst standing still in traffic,” she says. “Remember smash-and-grabbers rely on the element of surprise and the violent smashing of the window at the passenger side places the motorist in a few moments of silent paralysis – just enough to get hold of the valuables and flee the scene.”
Hattingh suggests fitting your windows with a polycarb film. These can be tinted so that no one can see into the car, while also preventing the windows from shattering.
Other useful tips include:
• Lock all your doors and never open vehicle windows or doors for strangers.
• Avoid opening your windows or getting involved in discussions with street vendors or anyone handing out flyers.
• Be constantly on the lookout for suspicious looking characters.
• Always be conscious of your surroundings and remain alert when coming to an intersection or stopping your vehicle.
• Be wary of people standing at intersections.
• If you encounter obstacles such as rocks or tyres do not get out of your vehicle to remove them; immediately reverse and drive off in the opposite direction.
• Leave a gap between you and the car in front of you to give you room to escape if you need to.
“If you are involved in an incident remember not to become aggressive or struggle for your possessions. Letting the criminal take your handbag or cell phone could save your life. What’s important is that you report the incident to the police as soon as possible. The SAPS rely on intelligence to manage hotspots and trends,” she concludes.