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How to Avoid Being a Victim of ‘Smash and Grab’

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Ok, this is South Africa, and as much as we love our beloved country, we do however have the problem of high crime rates.

Hijackings , robbery, sexual assault and car theft are among some of our most common crimes and as women, being a victim of such crimes should make us extra aware of where, when and how we drive on South African roads.

Smash and grab robbers prey on unsuspecting drivers in high congestion traffic, parking lots, traffic lights, and stop streets or the uniquely South African “smash and grab HOT SPOTS”. They will usually target drivers who are alone, but women are a favourite target because women are less likely to try putting up a fight or chase them down.

The best way to avoid a smash and grab situation is to not give the criminals any bait that might attract them to your car. Here is a list of things you should do to ensure your safety and avoiding becoming a victim of smash and grab theft.

• First things first, lock all doors and close windows.
Safety first, be sure that all windows and doors are locked. Even if your car does it automatically, double-check it. Make this your routine before driving off wherever you go. If you do not have an air con and it is a hot day, open your window, but be sure to close it when stopping at a traffic light or in slow moving traffic.

• Keep cell phone out of sight.
Our phones are so important to us ,but they are high on smash and grab ‘shopping lists’, so be sure to not have it on your lap, opposite car seat or in plain sight anywhere in the car when you are driving. Also practice safe phone use and have a hands free installed in your car if you really need to answer calls when driving.

• Put handbag, laptop bag or other valuables in the boot.
If you feel comfortable with having your handbag underneath your car seat, this is perfectly fine too. If not, always put your handbag, laptop bag, and groceries in the boot.

• Be doubly vigilant.
Be aware of people standing at traffic lights; do not feel bad for not taking pamphlets, or giving money to beggars or talking to campaigners and don’t buy from the vendors either. When in slow moving traffic, be extra aware too of your surroundings and always keep a safe following distance from the car in front of you.

• Get a window tint.
If you are permitted to, seek getting your car windows tinted. This will help conceal what you have in your car from criminals. The tint will also help in preventing glass from shattering in the event of an attempted smash and grab.

• Do not sit in your parked car for too long.
Some women have the tendency to sit in the car longer than they need to. Whether it is to talk on the phone or apply make-up, sitting in the car for an extended period will make you an easy target. Criminals will pounce on drivers who are unconscious of their surrounds when sitting in their car for a long time. Whenever you leave a building and head out to the parking lot, look around and once you get to your car, get in, lock and drive off as soon as possible.

• Park in a protected parking lot.
Criminals will target cars that are in unattended parking lots. Also, park in a well-lit area when parking your car at night.

• When driving at night, approach a red light slowly and cautiously.
Driving at night for anyone is dangerous for a number of reasons and driving alone as a woman is even riskier, but sometimes it is just unavoidable depending on what the situation may be. If you do not need to be driving at night, don’t. Be particularly careful when approaching a red light , drive as slow as possible so you don’t have to stop at the light.

Remember, being a victim of crime is NEVER your fault and there is no way you can stop it from happening to you. However, by following these tips hopefully you will minimise the chance of a smash and grab happening.


Busi Nhlapo

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