A smash-and-grab incident plays on the elements of speed and surprise. The opportunists usually smash through the car window on the passenger side while the car is stationary or stuck in slow moving traffic. The sudden shock causes a few moments of silent paralysis for the motorists and this gives them just enough time to grab something of value like a jacket, handbag or a laptop before they flee the scene.
Be alert when you are driving alone and follow these tips to ensure you don’t become a victim of a smash-and-grab incident.
1. Be alert. Criminals tend to target those that are distracted – usually on their phones or smoking a cigarette. Women drivers are also more at risk and should be particularly vigilant when stopping at traffic lights.
2. Put away your valuables. When thieves can see valuables from outside the vehicle, you are definitely a target. Make sure you don’t have purses, handbags, sunglasses, laptop bags, mobile phones, MP3 players and tablets lying on the passenger seat or in plain sight. Stow your belongings in the boot before you get into the car.
3. Always keep all doors locked.
4. Keeping windows very slightly open makes them more difficult to break. If your windows are struck by a spark plug, having them slightly open will provide more resilience. Don’t open your windows or talk to street vendors at intersections.
5. Be vigilant. People loitering at intersections, particularly if there are no businesses in the immediate surroundings, are suspicious.
6. When driving at night, try driving in the middle lane as criminals tend to hide in the bushes/grass next to the side lanes. When approaching traffic lights, slow down and try to reach it only as it turns green. If that isn’t possible, stop at a distance from the light as this will give you room to move.
7. If you see any obstacles in the road such as rocks or tyres do not get out of your car to move them. Rather, turn around and drive away. Opportunists may be waiting for you to get out to steal your vehicle or its contents.
8. Leave a vehicle length between you and the car in front of you to give you room for an emergency escape.
9. Some areas are notorious for smash-and-grab incidents. Be particularly careful whenever you see broken glass lying on the road – chances are that a smash-and-grab happened recently.
10. You can fit your window with protective smash-and-grab film, which is usually tinted so that no one can see into the car, while also preventing the windows from shattering. Although smash-and-grab film won’t prevent incidents from taking place, it will give you a few extra minutes to compose yourself and drive away.