During my lunch break, I decided to go down to said shopping centre to get some groceries. Little did I know that my short excursion would almost make me a victim of crime.
This piece is about my experience, but more so an opportunity for me to share some information regarding the need for motorists to be vigilant when approaching their vehicles in public spaces, and simultaneously expressing the power of social media to affect change and spread awareness, which I’ll get to later.
I arrived at the shopping centre and parked my car three spaces away from a security van, which had taken up two spaces towards the back of the parking lot. I was inside the store for a very short period and walked out with my small packet of items.
When approaching my vehicle, I noted that the aforementioned van had left, leaving my car rather ominously placed in the middle of nowhere. I walked around the car to the driver-side and noted that a tissue of some description had been wedged between the rubber rim of my door handle.
This was really strange so I put my packet down and began to inspect the tissue before touching it. During these few seconds, I noticed the reflection. of two men in my vehicle’s rear compartment window. I immediately stood back and faced them.
At this stage, the men were standing about five metres from the boot of my car with one of them seemingly holding something in his hand, which was covered by his baggy jacket sleeve. The few seconds that ensued saw me instinctively assume a defensive stance complete with clenched fists (well, my very poor version of a defensive stance at least). I checked my surroundings for a moment and spotted another man about 15 metres away.
The men near my boot looked at me for a moment and then took a few steps back. I then immediately stepped back from my car before the two closest to me ran. At this stage I knew I needed to get out of there, so I hopped in my car, chucked the groceries on the back seat and fled for the exit.
I didn’t see the third man during my escape and even ignored a warning from a pedestrian that there was something on my door. Now I can only assume that these men placed the tissue in my door as a distraction tactic.
Had I not seen them, I’m sure they would have been able to get close enough to be able to hold me at knife-point, gun-point or whatever weapon the one assailant had on him. Since the incident, I have speculated as to what their intentions were, stealing from me, taking my car or worse.
Upon arriving at the office, I took a photo of the tissue which was still wedged in my door handle and immediately took to Facebook to share my story and warn those around me. This is where the power of social media can be a great thing.
At times, Facebook can be a cesspit for trolls, fake news and hate speech, but sometimes it can help to spread awareness. At the time of writing this, my post had been shared over two-thousand times. If sharing my experience prevents even one person from becoming a victim, I’ll consider it a victory against these ruthless criminals.
The moral of the story is; don’t be silly like I was and park your car in a place where it is isolated from other vehicles, as this could potentially make you a target. Also remember to remain vigilant when approaching your vehicle.
Check your surroundings and ensure that you have an escape plan should you feel that something isn’t right. Most importantly, stay safe out there and beat the criminals at their own game.