School’s in, traffic’s a ’mare and the last thing you need on your agonizingly slow crawl to work is to become a victim of a smash-and-grab. ‘Although the police are taking steps to combat smash-and-grab incidents, it is up to you –the motorist – to remain vigilant,’ says Robyn Farrell, executive head of 1st for Women. Here are some tips on how to stay safe:

1 Leave your passenger windows open about three centimetres. This will make the glass more flexible, allowing it to absorb the sudden impact of an attempted smash-and-grab.

2 Don’t leave any valuables – or anything worth stealing – visible on the seats. A handbag on the passenger seat might mean easy access for you but it also means easy access for would-be thieves. Keep your laptop bag in the boot, and your handbag under your seat.

3 Stay alert when stationary at street intersections or stop signs, or in driveways and at parking entrances. These are smash-and-grab ‘hot spots’.

4 When you approach an intersection, leave enough space between you and the car in front of you to allow yourself room to manoeuvre and escape any dangerous situation.

5 Keep your hand close to the hooter when you’re at a traffic light or stop street.When approaching a red traffic light at night, slow down so you only reach it when it turns green.

6 Have polycarb film fitted on your windows. This is tinted, so potential thieves cannot see into your car, and it makes it extremely difficult to shatter windows. It also reduces glare and lowers the chance of injury from broken glass.

In the event of a smash-and-grab, stay calm and passive, and do not threaten or challenge the culprit. ‘Handbags and cellphones are replaceable, your life is not!’ says Farrell.

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