Ways to protect yourself from smash-and-grabs

2017-03-08 06:05

HIJACKINGS and smash-and-grab incidents can occur anytime and anywhere. Recent reports suggest an increase in both these types of attacks.

The Automobile Association (AA) has warned motorists to be vigilant while driving, and to ensure they take responsibility for their own and their passengers’ safety.

Avoid hot spots

“The most important thing is to be informed of where the hijacking and smash-and-grab hot spots are and to avoid them if possible, especially at night. Car tracking company Ctrack recently released a report of hot spots based on 2016 data that can assist motorists with this.

“And, of course, it’s vital to not make yourself a target by leaving valuable items in plain sight where potential thieves can see them.”

The association noted that while hijackings and smash-and-grabs are extremely traumatising, it’s critical to remain as calm as possible. “If someone is holding a gun to your head it’s best to do whatever he or she wants. Explain that you have children in the vehicle and get them, and yourself, out as quickly as possible. Remember, a vehicle can be replaced, your or your child’s life cannot.”

The AA also advised motorists to report any incidents to the police as soon as possible.

Safety tips

• Always remain focused on the road, do not be distracted by electronic devices.

• When stopping, always check your surroundings for danger and, if possible, leave enough room between yourself and the car ahead of you to drive away.

• Remain as calm as possible.

• Do not leave any valuables in open view. Rather put them in the boot of the car.

• Plan your route and avoid going to areas you are unfamiliar with. If possible, use a GPS device or consult a map beforehand to ensure you know exactly how to get to your destination.

• In the event of a hijacking, keep your hands visible at all times, and obey all instructions. Also explain at all times what you are going to do (“I am now going to unbuckle myself”, I am now going to unlock the door”, etc).

• Do not argue with a hijacker, do as he or she says.

• A well-maintained vehicle (with enough fuel for your journey) is less likely to break down and place you in a compromising position on the side of the road.

• Always keep your car doors locked.

• If possible, avoid driving alone, especially when it is dark.

• When at home, always check your surroundings for any suspicious vehicles or people.

• If you think you are being followed, drive to your nearest police station.

• Always report any incident to the police as soon as possible.

Conclusion: “It is impossible to completely avoid being a target but if you remain calm, the damage may only be stolen items or a stolen car. Don’t try to be a hero, it may cost you dearly.” — AA.

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