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 characterized 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 traumatized and feel victimized 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
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-gra
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 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.
- 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 alert 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.