10 things that make you an easy target for criminals in South Africa

 ·27 May 2024

Contact crimes—such as robbery, carjacking, and assault—are on the rise in South Africa, and security group Fidelity ADT has warned of 10 things that make you an easy target for these criminals.

According to the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) latest crime stats, contact crime (crimes against the person) increased by 3.8% compared to the prior period.

These types of crimes include common robbery, robbery with aggravating circumstances, carjacking, common assault, attempted murder, and murder, among other things.

Concerningly, robbery with aggravating circumstances has seen the biggest spike in reported cases, increasing 6.6% year-on-year.

Looking at the provinces, The North West saw the steepest increase in contact crimes (12.5%), followed by the Free State (6.9%) and the Northern Cape (5.9%).

On the other end of the spectrum, Limpopo saw a decrease (5%) in contact crimes, followed by the Eastern Cape (1.3%) and Gauteng (2.6%), which are both below the national average.

“Crime in South Africa is a reality, and anyone can become a victim,” said security group Fidelity ADT.

“Criminals are on the lookout for easy targets. If you come across as distracted or vulnerable, there is a real chance that criminals will consider you as an easy target,”

“Crime is often opportunistic in nature, but this means you can do a few things to remove that opportunity,” said Charnel Hattingh, Head of Communications and Marketing at Fidelity ADT.

Considering this, the group outlined 10 things that can leave you vulnerable to crime, which are listed below:

1. Running out of fuel

Be cautious when travelling through high-risk areas, especially those located alongside highways or isolated roads, regardless of the time of day.

Criminals may be lurking nearby and can easily strike as they have the advantage of quick escape routes and little fear of being pursued by motorists.

Always ensure that you have enough fuel for your journey. Taking a risk when the fuel gauge is low could potentially be life-threatening.

If you do run out of fuel, immediately notify someone of your location and remain in your vehicle with the doors locked and the windows closed until help arrives.

2. Carrying large amounts of cash

Criminals often receive inside information and then target individuals carrying large amounts of money to and from banks.

It is very risky to transport large sums of cash, so it’s best to avoid it whenever possible.

3. Being unobservant when pulling up to your gate/into your driveway

Hijackings and armed robberies are rarely spontaneous. Criminals often observe people’s routines and then plan their crimes accordingly.

If you have been targeted, you are at high risk when you are at your gate or in your driveway. Always be vigilant for people or cars that seem out of place when you enter your street, and avoid pulling directly up to the gate before it is fully open.

Stay in your car with the doors locked until the gate is closed. Keep a remote panic device in your car.

4. Flashing cash, expensive jewellery and your phone around

 Beware of opportunistic criminals who are everywhere. Expensive jewellery, especially watches, is a criminal’s dream, and they are likely to stop at nothing to steal it.

Keep your phone and money out of sight, and it’s best to leave expensive jewelry at home when you go to the shops.

5. Opening the gate for strangers

Never open the gate to someone you don’t know, no matter what their story is. Criminals often pose as council workers, service providers, or even police officers.

Be suspicious if you are not expecting anyone. Opening the gate to strangers is likely to lead to trouble.

6. Employing people to work for you without doing a background check

This is equivalent to granting a stranger access to your property and home.

Only hire staff through a reputable agency or word of mouth, always conduct a criminal background check on the individual, and request copies of their ID.

7. Leaving doors and security gates unlocked

This leaves your entire family vulnerable. Security gates should always be locked, and the keys placed out of reach.

8. Walking or sitting in your car in isolated areas

This is a scenario opportunistic criminals will take advantage of. The more isolated the area, the more likely the crime will turn violent.

Criminals hanging around isolated areas often operate in groups, too.

9. Driving with valuables in full view

There are beggars on many street corners, and some may be looking for an opportunity to break a car window and steal valuable items such as your phone, handbag, wallet, and laptop.

It’s safest to keep these items out of sight, such as in the trunk of your car.

10. Not checking your car doors are locked before you walk away

Remote jamming is still common, especially at shopping centres and garages. Always make sure to check—and double-check—that your car doors are locked before walking away.

It’s not just about the risk of criminals getting in and stealing your valuables or your car.

They could also hide in your car and wait for you to return, then force you to take them to an ATM to withdraw money, or worse.

Read: Criminals are after these 4 items in South Africa – and they’re looking for homes that have them

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