Newcastle SAPS issues warning about smash and grab incidents to motorists

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The school holidays are in full swing, which means parents don’t have to worry about the dashing to school to pick up their children, before rushing back to work.

However, with the community feeling more relaxed now that it’s school holidays, the criminal element seems to be taking advantage of the stress-free mood of parents. This comes after Newcastle SAPS spokesperson, Captain Jabulani Ncube, issued safety tips to prevent smash and grab incidents.

“People who pounce on unsuspecting drivers, have turned some pleasant rides into nightmares. They smash a car’s window or open an unlocked door, grabbing whatever they regard as of value.”

With smash and grab incidents being an opportunistic crime, Captain Ncube says motorists need to take precautionary measures, irrespective if your vehicle is moving or stationary.

“Lock all your doors and close the windows. Thieves steal handbags and other valuables by opening car doors or even by breaking windows while your car is stationary at traffic lights, or stuck in slow-moving traffic,” he warns.

Furthermore, motorists are encouraged to avoid leaving bags, cell phones, briefcases or other valuables visible in the vehicle.

“Lock all your valuables in the boot of your car. Or put it behind the seat if it is a bakkie.”

Other safety measures include:
  • Being constantly vigilant for suspicious-looking characters. Don’t hesitate to report them to the police.
  • When approaching a red traffic light at night, slow down so that you only reach it when it turns green. Therefore, you do not need to stop and become a potential target.
  • Be wary of people standing at traffic lights or intersections.  “They may be innocent, but perpetrators mix with these people while waiting for an opportunity to pounce.  They may even point to something being wrong with your window or get you to open your window or get out of your vehicle,” adds Captain Ncube.
  • Never open your vehicle window or door for any stranger.
  • If you encounter obstacles in the road such as rocks or tyres, do not get out of your vehicle to remove them. Immediately reverse and drive off in the opposite direction.
  • Thieves target car parks. Always park your car in attended parking lots where car guards are working.
  • When parking at night, ensure that you always park in a well-lit area.
  • Never sit in your vehicle without being fully conscious of your surroundings.  Sleeping in a stationary vehicle is very dangerous.
  • Always remove radios, CDs or cassette players, if possible.
  • Never leave any children alone in a vehicle, not even for a moment. “Take them with you, wherever you go. Children often innocently allow people access to your car and belongings to criminals and put themselves in danger,” Captain Ncube explains.

With criminals preying on suspecting motorists, residents are encouraged to remain safe these holidays. Always remaining vigilant and through following these easy steps, you can minimise the chances of your vehicle being targeted by unsavoury characters.

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