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Criminals don’t take holidays and go on leave


AS WE approach the Easter weekend, it is once again necessary to be more diligent and more wide-awake than usual when it comes to crime, warns the South African Insurance Crime Bureau (SAICB).

At this time of year, people tend to be either more relaxed and are not as diligent, or they are simply in a rush and not paying enough attention to the risk of criminal activity.

The SAICB warns to be on the lookout for car jamming, fender bender car-jackings, violent house robberies to obtain vehicle keys and expensive possessions and airport followings.

The SAICB has supplied us with some helpful tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of crime this holiday season.

CAR-JAMMINGS: Criminals continue to prey on people preoccupied at shopping centres, remote jamming their vehicles and helping themselves to the contents. At this time of year, Christmas shopping and holiday luggage could be rich pickings. Do not think that because you are on holiday, parked alongside the beach or in a coastal shopping centre, that criminals have also taken leave. This is an easy and effective opportunity for them to relieve you of your valuables.

FENDER-BENDERS: The criminal will cause an "accident" doing minimal damage to the target’s vehicle and as the victim exits the vehicle the criminal pounces, either using a weapon to take the keys, or will simply get in and drive off.

Be aware of your surroundings if you have a fender bender. Remove your keys from the car if you exit the vehicle. If, for whatever reason, you’re not comfortable with the circumstances of an accident, and there are no injuries, drive directly to the nearest police station, or densely occupied area to try and guarantee your safety, as far as possible.

HOUSEHOLD SECURITY: Do not be lax. Always follow the same security procedures as you would normally during the year. Be aware if your neighbours are away, so that if you hear activity next door you can react appropriately. Test your alarms and armed response to be prepared.

The SAICB and the police have noted a distinct upturn in the number of "airport followings" over the last few months. This is where spotters at the airport, in either the Arrivals Lounge or various car parking areas, identify you as a target. They may then follow you home and rob you at gun point or in some reported cases they will use a blue light to get you to stop on the highway. Always be aware of your surroundings and available options.

If you are not comfortable stopping for a blue light, then try to proceed to the nearest police station or draw attention of other law enforcement officers in the area. When entering your residence always be aware of possibly being followed. Even if entering a secure estate environment, criminals are not scared to use the minute or two that you stop at security, to strike.

All these crimes rely on the victims being distracted, relaxed and generally not being diligent and aware of the situation or their surroundings. It is the advice of the SAICB to be vigilant in all your day-to-day movements. It is this time of year that opportunistic crime escalates.

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