Smash and grab: 10 ways to protect yourself while driving

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AWARENESS of your surroundings is a valuable first step in preventing ‘smash-and-grabs’ from happening to you while you are driving.

Criminals are always looking for opportunities to strike. You can make a big difference in preventing this from happening by just being alert to events around you and by trusting your instincts, said Fidelity ADT Security’s district manager (KwaZulu-Natal) Ivan Govender.

Numerous websites and news media outlets have published video footage of incidents showing how fast a ‘smash-and-grab’ can happen to an unsuspecting motorist, and how quickly the thieves can make an escape.

Never leave valuable items on the seat next to you where it is clearly visible to anyone walking past your vehicle. Put it underneath your seat, in the glovebox or lock it away in your boot,  said Govender.

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Secondly, avoid any distractions while you are driving. Keep your attention on the safe movement of your vehicle, says Govender.

Law enforcement authorities often issue warnings of areas where ‘smash-and-grabs’ may have become prevalent. Govender recommends heeding these warnings and avoiding the area if at all possible.

In summary, he recommends the following:

  • Lock all your doors and close the windows when driving.
  • 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 activity and trust your instinct.
  • Always be conscious of your surroundings and remain alerted when coming to an intersection or stopping your vehicle.
  • Be wary of people standing at intersections – they may be innocent but perpetrators mix with these people while waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
  • If you encounter obstacles such as rocks or tyres do not get out of your vehicle to remove them. Reverse and drive off in the opposite direction.
  • If it’s late at night, slow down well in advance so that the light changes green by the time you reach the intersection.
  • Leave a gap between you and the car in front of you to give you room to escape if anything should happen.
  • Don’t have bags, cellular phones, briefcases or other valuables visible inside the vehicle – valuables only attract thieves who may break your car window.

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South Coast Herald

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