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Road Safety and Preventing Smash-and-Grab

Introduction and Definition

Crime and criminal activity require from South African motorists alertness and caution to more than only other vehicles.

Even though progress has been made in fighting hijackings and vehicle theft, there has been an increase in theft from vehicles. Many of these are what can be defined as “Smash-and-Grab”.

In this section, we would like to discuss the crime of smash-and-grab in more detail and offer recommendations to motorists on preventing this sudden invasion of privacy and likely loss of possessions.

What is a smash and grab crime?

A smash and grab criminal turns a pleasant drive into a nightmare when criminals are pouncing on unsuspecting drivers. The criminal act is usually characterised by smashing through some sort of barrier (e.g. vehicle window) while the car is stationary at traffic lights or stuck in slow moving traffic and grabbing something of value (e.g. jackets, handbags, laptops, etc).

A smash and grab usually plays on the element of speed and surprise  -The violent smashing of the window at 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!

These car burglaries can be expensive, from the cost of repairs to the vehicle and windows to replacing your belongings. The victims will most likely be traumatised and feel victimised for quite some time.

What is being targeted?

The thieves are usually after valuables which they can easily identify from outside the vehicle and sell as easily once removed from the possession of the motorists. Items targeted include:

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

Where are drivers most at risk and what are the methods used?

We find in the media mentions and warnings of so-called “Hot spots”. Even without warning signs, the cautious driver would be able to identify areas where he/ she would be most at risk. These tend to be places where criminals know that vehicles will be stationary, where drivers can be easily distracted and where the criminal can make a quick and effective escape.

Who are most vulnerable?

  • The victims are most often single drivers with belongings on the passenger seat.
  • Criminals tend to focus on female drivers well knowing that they are less likely to chase after them.
  • Drivers who are distracted are most vulnerable – those busy on the cellular phone or with a cigarette in the hand.
  • Vehicles left unattended away from the crowds and with valuables visible are easy targets for a quick smash-and-grab.

Methods used and Modus Operandi

  • Criminals will focus on those areas where they know traffic is often congested and where vehicles will remain stationary for a while.
  • These criminals also will often work in pairs where one will pose as a vendor, distracting the attention of the driver while the other party will perform the smash –and-grab from the passenger side.
  • Objects are sometimes placed on the road and motorists make the mistake of leaving their vehicles to remove these objects. This is when the vehicles are then easily targeted.
  • Communication technology such as cellular phones has also enabled these criminals to identify potential victims from a bridge or position of elevation and to relay this message to their partners in crime further along the road.
  • The person making the smash and grab will most likely select the scene of the crime as an area where a fast getaway would be possible for him and any pursuit would be difficult.

Advice on preventing smash-and-grabs

Even though it is not always possible to avoid the so-called “hotspots” where these criminals prey on unsuspecting motorists, it is possible to reduce the risk of becoming a smash and grab the victim. Motorists can make these burglaries more difficult. Smash-and-grab car burglars don’t want difficult challenges and would rather prefer to move on when they suspect hurdles to the swift execution of these crimes.

We would like to advise the following measures:

Safe Driving

  • Lock all your doors and close the windows when driving – 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 looking characters.
  • Always be conscious of your surroundings and remain alerted when coming to an intersection or stopping your vehicle.
  • Be wary of people standing at intersections – They may be innocent but perpetrators mix with these people while waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
  • 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.
  • If it’s late at night, slow down well in advance so that the light changes green by the time you reach the intersection.
  • Leave a gap between you and the car in front of you to give you room to escape (i.e. drive away from the scene), if anything should happen.
  • Be especially wary whenever you see broken glass lying on the road. If the pieces of glass are still scattered across the road, chances are that a smash and grab occurred just recently.

Taking Away the Attraction

  • Reduce the chances of becoming a target by removing that which the criminals are trying to get their hands on.
  • Smash-and-grab car burglars aren’t exactly criminal masterminds. Many simply act on impulse.
  • Don’t have bags, cellular phones, briefcases or other valuables visible inside the vehicle – valuables only attract thieves who may break your car window.
  • Hide your valuables. – Car floors, dashboards and seats are not good places to leave items.
  • If you can’t take valuable items with you, hide them out of sight in your trunk.

Safety when Parking

  • Thieves target car parks. Always park your car in attended parking lots.
  • When parking at night ensures that you always park in a well-lit area.
  • Keep your car visible. Thieves do not want witnesses – You can help prevent a smash-and-grab by parking your car in crowded areas near pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
  • Never sit in your vehicle without being conscious of your surroundings.
  • Lock your doors and roll up your windows when you park
  • Activate your security system
  • Consider window tinting (if permitted by local laws)
  • Avoid using the console or glove box as mobile lockboxes
  • Don’t hand a car burglar your keys. Leaving your key on the dash or in the ignition is an invitation to a car burglar. And keep in mind that if you have a great hiding place for a spare key (in your wheel well or above your sun visor), a thief has thought of it, too.
  • Stow your belongings like shopping bags and laptops in the trunk before you get to the parking area.

Window Safety Film

What is ‘smash and grab’ film?

Protective safety film is pasted on vehicle windows to help prevent smash and grab incidents. The protective film is usually tinted so that no one can see into the car, while also preventing the windows from shattering. While the glass breaks, the film holds the pieces in place, which further protects you from broken glass.

Although smash and grab film may not prevent smash and grab incidents from taking place, it will give you a few extra minutes to recompose yourself and drive away safely.

If you don’t have smash and grab film installed, leave your window open slightly (approximately 3 cm, but less than 5cm) whilst driving. This makes the glass more flexible and more resistant to shattering if they’re struck by a sharp object.

Safety film is however not only a deterrent for criminals. Other benefits include:

  • It protects passengers from being hit by dangerous glass splinters when the glass breaks in side-impact accidents.
  • Windows film can reject up to 99% of the sun’s harmful UV rays, helping to protect you against skin cancer, and your car’s interior from fading and cracking.
  • Safety film forms an invisible shield to reduce glare and resultant eye fatigue.
  • The film also improves your comfort by keeping the vehicle interior cool and comfortable in the scorching heat, reducing the load on the air conditioning and thus saving fuel.

Keep in mind that some car insurance companies provide a discounted premium to vehicle owners installing window safety film on their vehicles.

Conclusion

The cautious driver will be able to prevent most incidents of smash-and-grab. If there is nothing to grab there is no reason for the window to be smashed! Trust your instincts. If you see suspicious activity, find somewhere else to park. We would like to urge motorists to report suspicious activity to the proper authorities – you can help prevent others from becoming a victim of a smash-and-grab or another crime!

Vision Tactical Launches Mobile Command Unit 

The Mobile Command Unit, which is a high-tech SUV with satellite, internet, video and radio capabilities, will be essential for communications and coordination for Vision Tactical in the event of an emergency.

The mobile command unit will assist the Intervention Units & Tactical Units at large-scale events, operations and will also coordinate in training.

“We see the mobile command unit fitting in to our fleet as an instrument for controlling and mastering difficult operational situations in a manageable and organized fashion” said Yaseen Theba, Director at Vision Tactical. Emergencies won’t be the sole use for the mobile command unit, Theba said. The vehicle will also have a presence during community engagement activities and crime prevention campaigns.

‘Soft drink’ bribe lands taxi driver in jail

3460667717Cape Town – A reckless taxi driver who offered a policeman R50 “for a soft drink” has landed in jail for corruption.

Balungile Mapoqa appeared in the Goodwood Regional Court, before magistrate Constance Nziweni, who jailed him for 32 months for trying to bribe the police official, and reckless driving.

The court heard that police intercepted him as he drove his taxi against the traffic in Langa, in Cape Town.

As the police official explained the reason for pulling him over, Mapoqa offered him the R50 for a soft drink. The police official declined the bribe, and instead arrested him on charges of reckless driving and corruption. Mapoqa pleaded not guilty to both counts, and said he had no intention of bribing the policeman.

The offer of R50 was his way of apologising for the driving violation, but he did hope the police would let him go, he said.

 He claimed the road was free of oncoming traffic at the time – disputed by the State – and that he did not endanger the lives of other motorists. The magistrate said Mapoqa had a responsibility to drive extra cautiously whilst carrying passengers, and to obey the rules of the road. She said the courts had a duty to protect the public from abuse and exploitation at the hands of corrupt people, and to deter would-be offenders.

She said corruption was endemic in the country, and she agreed with prosecutor Daniel Cloete that “stiff” sentences were required to stop corrupt people from offering bribes to police officials. If allowed to go unpunished, corruption had the potential to destroy the very fabric of society, she said.

VISION TACTICAL LAUNCHES PANIC APP

MEDIA STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

27th July 2016

VISION TACTICAL LAUNCHES PANIC APP

Vision Tactical AppJohannesburg – Vision Tactical launched a smartphone app that turns your phone into the ultimate emergency system. It is linked to their control room & armed response that sends real-time alerts requesting a range of emergency services. These emergency services include Armed Response/ nearest SAPS, Medical Assistance by ER24 or the nearest Fire Station.

The app is designed to help their clients in emergency situations. Instead of searching for the correct number to call in an emergency situation and giving exact details of your location, the app will do all this for you. Vision Tactical will call the required emergency respondents and will be able to pinpoint your location via live GPS tracking. In stressful situations, it’s easy to activate the panic and let professionals handle all the rest.

With its user-friendly interface and intuitive functionality, the App can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play Store. Up to five members will be able to access the app from the single payment of R2000 per year.

“It’s a great tool to fight crime”, said Yusuf Abramjee- Interpol #TurnBackCrime Ambassador & Crime Activist.

“This application is a long overdue tool for the fight against crime, crime prevention, and the investigation against crime. Vision Tactical is playing their part in building a safe community and making people feel safer. This is their contribution to the National Development Plan 2030”, said Andy Mashaile, Interpol #TurnBackCrime Ambassador.

“Its important for us to provide our services to our clients wherever they go. Using technology we are able to provide a faster response” – said Yaseen Theba, Director of Vision Tactical

End-

Enquiries:

Yaseen Theba: cell 064 400 0000
info@visiontactical.co.za / www.visiontactical.co.za

Vision Tactical App

App

Third arrest after Rhodes Park horror

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21 December 2015 at 09:08am

Johannesburg – A third suspect has been arrested in connection with the Rhodes Park rape and murders.

A 33-year-old man was nabbed on Friday in Sunnyside Park, Pretoria, according to Gauteng police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini.

Two other suspects, aged 22 and 24, were arrested – one in October and the other last month.

“The two men, identified as Edmor Ndlovu and Thabo Nkala, have already been charged and also appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court last week,” Dlamini said.

The third man was expected to appear in the same court on Monday on charges of rape and murder.

All three men are believed to have been part of a gang of 12 who killed two men and raped a woman at Rhodes Park in Kensington on October 17.

At the time, Dlamini said the two men and their wives were walking in the park when they were confronted by a group of men. The suspects allegedly tied up both men and threw them into the dam at the park, where they drowned. One of their wives was raped but the other woman managed to escape.

“It is alleged that one of the suspects was armed with a handgun,” Dlamini said.

“A reward of up to R100 000 will be offered to anyone who comes forward with information that may lead to the arrest and conviction of the other men who police are still looking for,” Dlamini said.

Anyone with information should call Warrant Officer Bruce van der Schyff on 082 651 7769 at all hours.

Information can also be forwarded to Crime Stop at 08600 10111 at all hours.

Rhodes Park case: identikits released

December 1 2015 at 01:09pm 2168495714

By Staff reporter

Johannesburg – Police have released the identikits of three men they say may be able to assist with the investigation into the Rhodes Park murder case.

Police are also offering a reward of up to R100 000 for information that may lead to the arrest and conviction of six suspects wanted in connection with the murder and rape cases at Rhodes Park.

Two suspects who have already been charged are due to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on December 9.

The men are suspected of being part of a gang that attacked two couples as they strolled inside Rhodes Park in Kensington.

The gang allegedly tied the men up, threw them into the lake and left them to drown.

The gang then allegedly raped one of the women. The other woman managed to escape before they could get to her.

Anyone with information may contact the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Bruce van der Schyff, on 082 651 7769 at all hours or Crime Stop at 08600 10111 at all hours.

Guard killed in Polokwane mall robbery

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November 25 2015 at 07:26pm
By ANA Reporter

Polokwane – A mall in Polokwane was closed on Wednesday after armed robbers shot and killed a security guard near a jewellery store. Two suspects were arrested by police.

Police said a group of armed robbers entered the jewellery store, robbed a client and the shop of an undisclosed amount of cash, and when fleeing the scene, shot a guard who was walking along the mall corridor.

Police spokesperson Captain Ntobeng Phala said: “The suspects came out running from the shop and the guard was on the corridor, walking and when he notice the robbery he attempted to grab one suspect and was shot.”

The guard was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

Phala said they were still verifying the value of the jewellery that was stolen during the heist.

Eyewitnesses said the guard was walking from the shop where he had just bought his lunch when the incident took place. A 2 litre Coke, sliced polony and a loaf of bread could be seen lying close to his body.

Phala said the security officer was not attached to the store but had been contracted to the mall company.

He said two suspects were arrested after they were linked to the crime through surveillance investigations.

“We found them hiding somewhere along the road, it appears their co-suspects left them behind when they fled the scene,” said Phala.

Other suspects allegedly fled in a white Hilux bakkie, but Phala said preliminary investigations showed that the bakkie had a false registration number plate.

Our investigations shows that the registration number was of a BMW, which means that the suspects had a false number plate,” he said.

Five held for Kimberley cash heist

179782370November 16 2015 at 09:21pm
By Getrude Makhafola

Johannesburg – Five people have been arrested in connection with a cash-in-transit in Kimberley, Northern Cape, on Monday.

“The incident took place near a local store at Beaconsfield. At this stage, we are still busy with the investigation to determine how many suspects were involved in the cash-in-transit,” said the police’s Lieutenant Olebogeng Tawana.

“Some of the suspects fled the scene with undisclosed amount of cash, and some of the cash boxes with undisclosed amount of cash have been recovered.”

Police confiscated five firearms and two getaway vehicles.

Meanwhile, in Limpopo, three armed men overpowered security guards who had just collected cash from a shopping centre in Hlogotlou on Monday, police said.

“The guards were robbed of a box containing undisclosed amount of cash. The suspects fired shots before fleeing the scene in two vehicles, a Mercedes Benz and a mortuary vehicle. The mortuary vehicle was later found abandoned 30km away from the scene,” said spokesman Lieutenant Malesela Ledwaba. No arrests were made.

Vision Tactical SAFETY TIP

 

 safety tip cropped-Vision-Logo.png

  1. Lock the vehicles doors and close all the windows. Thieves often target vehicles in peak times when traffic is heavy and while stationary at an intersection.
  2. Leaving valuable items in plain sight is only further attracting thieves to your vehicle. Ensure they are well hidden. Out of sight, out of mind.
  3. Don’t hesitate to report suspicious looking individuals or vehicles to the police.  Be fully aware of everything surrounding you and your vehicle
  4. Be wary of people standing at traffic lights or intersections. Perpetrators often mix with the most innocent looking people to avoid suspicion
  5. Never open your vehicle window or door for any stranger. Perpetrators often point to the vehicles tyres or lights in an attempt to get the driver to pull over, making their task a lot easier.
  6. Thieves target parking lots. Parking in an area with a parking attendant will limit their opportunities to break into your vehicle.
  7. Do not park in poorly lit parking lots at night. Parking in a well-lit area at night allows you to survey the area before exiting and re-entering your vehicle.
  8. Never leave your children alone in a vehicle. Children innocently allow perpetrators into the vehicle, leaving the child to fend for themselves.
  9. Do not exit your vehicle to remove objects laying in the road. Chances are the object have been put there to force the driver to remove it, making them an easy target
  10. Immediately lock the vehicle doors when you enter or exit your vehicle. Don’t give crooks the opportunity to enter your vehicle. It happens in the blink of an eye.

Report any suspicious activity  to our control room on 084-222-2222

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