A recent ENCA video warns motorists of a new way in which criminals are targeting motorists. As we head into the Festive Season, it is important to be aware of these and to not forget all that you already know about vehicle crimes.
There are two new ways of falling victim to criminals at petrol stations. In the first women are targeted by other females who ask for help contacting their husbands after a robbery. When the husband cannot be contacted the driver gives the lady a lift after which she is stopped by another two criminals and is driven to ATMs to withdraw cash.
In the second, males are targeted when a schoolgirl climbs unexpectedly into his vehicle, after which a police officer appears at his window (it is unclear if he is a real officer or not). When he enquires what is going on the girl claims she was assaulted. After this, the police officer solicits a R3 000 bribe to ‘make it all go away.’
The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says the natural desire to help others is used against drivers. “One can still help but more cautiously. Assist the woman by calling the police for her. Never allow a stranger into your car. You can still help others without risking your own safety.
“In the second scenario, the driver does not invite the girl into the car, the doors should be locked. If your car does not automatically lock the doors, develop a habit of locking it immediately on entering. This will protect you against criminals at traffic lights or filling stations. If you unlock your doors to open the petrol flap, immediately lock them afterwards.”
Awareness remains one of the best defences. “When you offer to call police for the woman and she walks away, still call the police to prevent another becoming her target. Before unlocking doors at a petrol station, look around for suspicious people, including schoolgirls, loitering close by.
“The ENCA video noted it is difficult to determine the extent of the crime with males as it is often unreported. While it will be difficult to change this, we emphasise that you do. Both scenarios should be reported because if law enforcement is not aware of hot spots and the crime’s common occurrence, measures cannot be taken to reduce it.”
The Festive Season also heralds more crime in parking lots at malls. “Reverse park so that a quick and safe exit in an emergency is possible. Keep a watchful eye for anyone following you and should you feel in danger ask security to walk you to your car.
“Have car keys in your hand before leaving the mall and put parcels in the boot quickly without fuss. Don’t spend time scratching through bags for something. Do not let your guard down, especially during the Festive Season.”
As we enter a period of increased crime, be sure you do everything possible to avoid becoming a victim yourself.