As the festive season approaches, South Africans are being urged to be more vigilant as criminality increases during this time.
During the Christmas period, criminal activities, including burglaries, robberies, hijackings, ATM bombings and cash-in-transit heists, tend to surge across the country.
Hijacking expert, Richard Brussow, says South Africans should be on high alert for scams.
Brussow says one of the latest scams is called the ‘School Girl’ and the spiking of cars.
According to Brussow – in one of the scams – a motorist trying to fill up their car at a petrol station will get approached by a “school girl” – where she will ask to use the victim’s phone to make a call to her mother.
He says the main objective is to climb into the vehicle and end up extorting money from the motorist.
In another scam, a seemingly distressed woman after being robbed will ask to make a phone call to her ‘husband’ and then ask for a lift home. As the motorist leaves the petrol station, they are followed by the robbers where they will flash the motorist to stop. The motorist will then be robbed as they climb out and will take the victim to different ATMs drawing money.
“Be very, very careful here. If you get approached by a schoolgirl at a petrol station, do not let her in your vehicle under any circumstances,” warned Brussow. “Lock your doors and don’t engage with anyone that’s not an employee of the filling station.”
Brussow also highlighted that most of the hijackings happen in the afternoon, and mostly at home driveways, when people are making their way home at the end of the day.
Brussow gave some tips on how to keep safe during the festive season:
1. Check whether you’re being followed
If you think you’re being followed, don’t turn into your driveway – rather keep driving. If the car stays behind you, drive straight to the nearest police station or call your armed response company.
2. Don’t stop unless it’s a must and don’t stop fully at stop signs but slow down rather.
If you feel threatened, and your car is still drivable, don’t stop. Don’t get out. Drive straight to the nearest police station and report the incident.
3. Be aware of your surroundings
When stopped at intersections, don’t check your messages or fiddle with your sound system. Stay alert to what’s happening around you, and watch out for any potential threat.
4. Don’t drive with valuables in the car.
5. Avoid hijack hotspots
6. Avoid using your cellphone at crime scenes such as Cash in Transit heists (CITS’s) or maybe during a robbery at the mall etc.
During a hijacking, Brussow says:
Written by: Nonhlanhla Harris