Police warn of increase in smash and grabs in Pretoria

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Gopolang Chawane

Central police warn motorists of an increase in smash and grabs in the Pretoria central area since early January.

Spokesperson Captain Augustinah Selepe said after this weekend’s arrests, police noted a slight increase in the number of reported smash and grabs throughout the CBD.

She said a case was reported on Saturday, the victim was driving on Es’kia Mphahlele Drive in Marabastad when his phone was taken from his car.

“The victim stopped at a red traffic light and his cellphone was on his dashboard being used as a navigator,” said Selepe.

“While the victim was waiting for the traffic light to turn green, a thief grabbed the phone and fled.”

She said police urged motorists to be alert and vigilant at all times.

“Make sure the car doors are locked, windows closed and never leave any valuables visible.”

Selepe also asked the public to be aware of pamphlet distributors and ice-lolly sellers as some may be the culprits.

She said 49 cases of theft out of a vehicle were reported, and in most cases handbags, laptops, and cellphones were targeted. She said thieves break a vehicle’s window to get to valuables.

Selepe said hotspots identified by police were Eeufees, Jeff Masemola and Paul Kruger, Struben and Es’kia Mphahlele streets.

She said the majority of cases took place in Berea.

Arrive Alive, an organisation focused on road awareness and safety advised motorists to follow the tips below to prevent smash-and-grabs:

Infographic: Danielle Garrett

Infographic: Danielle Garrett

Criminals focus on areas where traffic is often congested and where vehicles will remain stationary for a while.

Criminals often work in pairs, one will pose as a vendor, distracting the driver while the other attacks from the passenger side.

Single drivers and female drivers are easy targets.

Those who are distracted, for example, those busy on the cellphone or with a cigarette in hand.

Vehicles left unattended away from the crowds and with visible valuables are easy targets.

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