Following a recent spate of incidents in the Sandton area where criminals have followed residents home after shopping, Theunis Kotze, general manager of ADT Central Region, urges shoppers to be cautious.
“The majority of cases we see are where shoppers are followed home from the malls and hijacked in their driveways. Criminals are aware these shoppers have a car full of newly-purchased items and are generally easy, distracted targets. Awareness is your most effective defence so keep an eye out for any suspicious vehicles that may be following you and, if in doubt, drive to your nearest police station or security provider guard house,” advises Kotze.
He also reminds drivers to remember the general hijacking safety tips such as waiting in the road for the gate to open before driving in, and making sure the gate is closed properly behind your vehicle before getting out.
Regarding staying safe in the malls, Kotze encourages shoppers to carry as little as possible in handbags or pockets and rather leave unnecessary bank or store cards and large amounts of cash at home. “A packed clothing store or supermarket is the prime hunting-ground for a pick-pocket or bag-snatcher. And, never leave a handbag, purse or wallet in a trolley. If you don’t use a bag or do not take one along, keep your wallet or purse in the front pocket of your jacket or trousers.”
Your safety outside the mall is just as important as it is inside, he adds. “Before you exit the mall, have your keys ready so that no time is wasted to get your purchases and yourself into the car. This also means that you’ll be able to hold onto your handbag as you walk. If someone does try to snatch your handbag, let it go. Do not resist or fight back,” he advises.
Lastly he suggests avoiding shopping late at night. “While the idea of a quieter shopping mall may seem appealing, you are more vulnerable in the car parks, mall bathrooms and the likes. If you have no other choice, be vigilant and report any suspicious individuals to the mall security,” he concludes.