With summer upon us and the start of silly season imminent, many people might be inclined to let their guard down. However, don’t become so festive or relaxed that you become careless about security. It only takes a moment for a mobile phone, wallet or bag to be snatched away in public or in a smash and grab situation. Remain safety conscious by keeping the following tips in mind:
In the car
A smash and grab robbery is a common technique that criminals employ. These robberies are committed at any time of the day, in busy intersections or quiet streets, when a vehicle is at a standstill or in slow-moving traffic, or when a vehicle is parked. The perpetrators choose spots with easy access and escape and they use the element of surprise to their advantage. On the road, they often work in teams to distract motorists or to inform accomplices positioned down the road of easy targets.
Valuables are better kept out of sight, in the boot or under the seats. While driving, rather stay off your mobile phone until you reach your destination. Not only is it illegal to use your phone while you are driving, but it sets you up as an easy target while your attention is diverted from the road and your surroundings.
Always keep the car doors locked and windows closed. If you need the windows open due to the heat, it is even more important to have your valuables out of sight and reach. With the window open you are more vulnerable to attack and your valuables being snatched from you. You’re an easy target if you’re sitting in your car with the window down and your phone in your hand or pressed to your ear.
“Criminals are most likely to strike when you least expect it, so pay attention no matter where you are for your safety and wellbeing,” says Duma Ngcobo, Chief Operating Officer at Tracker. “Should an incident occur, don’t struggle for your valuables and try to get away as quickly as possible. If you feel that you are likely to be compromised and your valuables snatched from you, consider subscribing to services that will help get you back on track.”
Out and about
No matter where you go or what you do, it’s important to be attentive, so that you don’t miss out on life’s special moments, but also to keep safe. Always be aware of your surroundings while you are out. This will help you to avoid a dangerous situation.
Don’t carry too much cash or valuables on your person and keep these items out of sight. Leave unnecessary bank or store cards at home.
Whether you’re out on the street or in a mall, be vigilant of who might be watching you or following you. Try to avoid quiet places or spots where someone could be hiding.
If you’re carrying a bag, keep one hand on a strap so that if someone tries to grab it from behind, you still have a hold on it. Also, make sure that all the pockets are properly closed. If you don’t have a bag, keep your wallet or purse and phone in the front pocket of your jacket or trousers. Avoid walking around with your phone in your hand as this makes it easier to snatch. Attackers are relying on you being distracted and vulnerable, so don’t talk on your phone while walking.
Inside a mall, avoid darkened hallways and quiet areas, especially near closing time. Avoid using bathrooms that are tucked away in a back area of a mall concourse or department. If you can, find a bathroom near the mall’s food court or other well-trafficked areas. Never leave a bag in a trolley or pram, rather carry it on you. Save your most expensive purchases for last, so you can head straight home.
At a restaurant
If you have a bag, place it on your lap while at a restaurant or on a bag clip underneath the table, but make sure that you can see it. If you must place it on the floor, put one leg through the strap so that it can’t be taken from you. Also, make sure that no one could subtly reach into a pocket and remove the items stored there. Avoid leaving your phone, wallet or purse on the table while seated. Rather put these items away.
Tables that are on or near a sidewalk are particularly vulnerable spots, as they provide easy access and a quick getaway.
Picture: Women on Wheels gallery