Driving with valuables: Boot it or lose it


A recent report from Sandton police and Fidelity ADT has once again highlighted an increase in theft out of motor vehicles as well as smash-and-grab incidents, especially at busy intersections such as Woodmead Drive, Sandton Drive, William Nicol Drive and Bowling Avenue.

A broad appeal has gone out to the community to be mindful when driving or walking in those areas, especially during peak-hour traffic. Just because there are many cars around does not mean you are safe. In fact, this is when people are being caught totally off-guard because they are occupied with their phones during ‘stop and move’ stages in traffic.

Linda Reeder, community development manager for Fidelity ADT said one must remember to keep your boot locked at all times, otherwise, it is very easy while you are stopped in traffic for the criminals to just open your boot and grab and run.

“Criminals are becoming very shrewd and know when people drive they sometimes forget that their boot is still open if it does not automatically lock.”

She added that even then, you need to stay alert as criminals know that people keep valuables such as handbags, laptops, sports bags in the boot of their car these days. “They are now going as far as forcing motorists to open their boot whilst standing still in traffic.

“Remember smash-and-grabbers rely on the element of surprise and the violent smashing of the window on the passenger side places the motorist in a few moments of silent paralysis – just enough to get hold of the valuables and flee the scene!”

A useful tip is to leave your window open about three centimetres while in heavy traffic. She explained that it also allows the window to absorb most of the impact by being less rigid while not leaving enough room for the criminal to stick his hand through. Alternatively, most safety organisations suggest motorists fit their windows with a polycarb film. These can be tinted so that no one can see into the car, while also preventing the windows from shattering.

Thieves are usually after items which they can easily identify from outside the vehicle and sell easily once removed from the possession of the motorists.

Items targeted include:

  • Purses, handbags and wallets
  • Laptop bags, briefcases and backpacks
  • Shopping bags
  • Cell phones, MP3 players and tablets
  • Loose change and CDs
  • Keys.


Useful tips:

  • Lock all your doors and never open vehicle windows or doors for strangers.
  • Avoid opening your windows or getting involved in discussions with street vendors or anyone handing out flyers.
  • Be constantly on the lookout for suspicious characters.
  • Always be conscious of your surroundings and remain alert when coming to an intersection or stopping your vehicle.
  • Be wary of people standing at intersections.
  • If you encounter obstacles such as rocks or tyres do not get out of your vehicle to remove them; immediately reverse and drive off in the opposite direction.
  • Leave a gap between you and the car in front of you to give you room to escape if you need to.

“Letting the criminal take your handbag or cellphone could save your life. What’s important is that you report the incident to the police as soon as possible. The police rely on intelligence to manage hotspots and trends,” she concluded.


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Shanice Naidoo

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