When it comes to depriving South Africans of their hard earned possessions, criminals are getting more creative by the day. And now they’re even taking advantage of our natural desire to help others.
There are two new ways in which motorists are being targeted at petrol stations, as highlighted by a recent ENCA video.
In one of these, women are being targeted by other females who ask for help contacting their husbands after an apparent robbery. When the husband cannot be contacted the driver gives the lady a lift, after which she is stopped by another two criminals and is driven to ATMs to withdraw cash.
In the other new trend, male drivers are being targeted by criminals who get a schoolgirl to unexpectedly jump into the victim’s vehicle. Then suddenly a (presumably fake) police officer appears at the window, and the girl then claims to have been assaulted. The apparent officer then uses this to solicits a R3,000 bribe to ‘make it all go away.’
Eugene Herbert, The CEO of MasterDrive, says the natural desire to help others is used against motorists in these instances.
“One can still help but more cautiously. Assist the woman by calling the police for her. Never allow a stranger into your car. You can still help others without risking your own safety.
“In the second scenario, the driver does not invite the girl into the car, the doors should be locked. If your car does not automatically lock the doors, develop a habit of locking it immediately on entering. This will protect you against criminals at traffic lights or filling stations. If you unlock your doors to open the petrol flap, immediately lock them afterwards,” Herbert added.
He also reccommends that when you offer to call the police for the woman and she walks away, it is still best to contact the police in order to prevent another person from becoming her target.
“The ENCA video noted it is difficult to determine the extent of the crime with males as it is often unreported. While it will be difficult to change this, we emphasise that you do. Both scenarios should be reported because if law enforcement is not aware of hot spots and the crime’s common occurrence, measures cannot be taken to reduce it,” Herbert said.
MasterDrive also warns that the upcoming Festive Season will inevitably bring an increase in crime in the parking lots of malls.
“Reverse park so that a quick and safe exit in an emergency is possible. Keep a watchful eye for anyone following you and should you feel in danger ask security to walk you to your car.
“Have car keys in your hand before leaving the mall and put parcels in the boot quickly without fuss. Don’t spend time scratching through bags for something. Do not let your guard down, especially during the Festive Season,” MasterDrive added.
Bottom line: always be aware of your surroundings and have an escape plan.