Unfortunately, car-related crime – particularly smash-and-grabs – are a fairly common occurrence within South Africa. They’re often over before you’ve even had time to register what is happening, which makes them hard to combat. But due to the nature of the crime, sticking to these simple tips should drastically lower the odds of it happening to you.
Remove the attraction
It may seem obvious, but time and time again, the leading cause for a smash-and-grab is leaving a valuable object on a car seat, or in the footwell of your car. Removing anything that might attract a thief’s attention usually prevents them from even giving you a second thought. After all, they’re after easy wins.
Be sure to remove bags, wallets, phones, and other valuables from the view of pedestrians. Instead, keep those things under car seats, in your dashboard, or in the boot of your car. To make sure you don’t forget, try to make it a habit that you take a look around your car before walking away from it, or alternatively, driving off.
Lock your doors and roll your windows up at a standstill
Driving with the window down is often a fuel-efficient way of keeping you cool, but open windows make for easy targets. Instead, be sure to wind your window as you come to a stop; you can always open it again while on the move. In the same vein, those who fail to lock their doors are only asking for trouble. You’d be surprised by how many times a thief has gone for the handle of a car door, long before they opt for the window.
Be aware of your environment
Remain vigilant of the people around you. It’s important to always be on the lookout for suspicious looking characters, and try not to get distracted when you’ve come to a stop. More often than not, a thief is waiting for you to start fiddling with your phone, pay more attention to your cigarette, or look away.
Put some space between you and dodgy situations
Objects like rocks, tyres, trees or anything else that might prevent you from continuing forward are often used as barriers, not just to bring you to a halt, but entice you out of your car. Travelling at an appropriate speed will give you time to see impediments in the road and react appropriately. In this case, immediately reverse and travel in the opposite direction.
You should always leave a car’s space between you and the car in front of you, to give you room to manoeuvre and escape, should the need for it arise.
At night time, drive slower when you see a red robot ahead. It gives the robot more time to change to green, letting you continue driving without ever coming to a stop.
Always remain calm
Being the victim of a smash-and-grab is often unsettling, but the most important thing you can do is not to antagonise the thief. Nine times out of ten, they will have far less to lose than you do, and your wellbeing is not worth sacrificing for the remote chance that you retrieve a material possession.
By driving cautiously and always accounting for your environment, as well as the possession’s you’ve stowed away in your car, you make smash-and-grabs far less likely. But it’s important to reiterate the final point; that your life is worth more than any material possessions, and it’s simply not worth fighting for. That’s what insurance is for.
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