Cell phone trickster’s return

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    SANDTON – Crime alert goes out to the public to remain vigilant and observant following an increase in cell phone thefts in the Sandton CBD.

    Cell phone robberies have returned to the streets of Sandton with more and more incidents shared, some including videos, on social media. A warning by the Sandton Community Police Forum went out to residents to be more vigilant of their surroundings and valuables.

    In an effort to identify and monitor known hotspots for cell phone robberies, Sandton Police Station and Sandton Central’s safety division carried out blue light patrols on 18 September, however, the forum continues to appeal to the community.

    “Pedestrians walking and talking on their phones become a target because they are not aware of what is happening around them, while drivers should always place their valuables in the boot,” Linda Wilkins of the policing forum advised.

    Thieves have shown that they are not biased when it comes to circumstances or environment as cell phones have reportedly been snatched from restaurant tables and through the vehicle windows.

    Wilkins added that it is important to note that criminals are everyday people. Some dress smartly and appear to be out of sight. You won’t really notice them until your phone is snatched out of your hand.

    According to a crime alert compiled by the policing forum, most syndicates appear to be using vehicles similar to those used by Uber and Taxify drivers – for example, a Toyota Corolla or Hyundai – so they don’t appear as suspicious.

    “They drop off one crew member who will pretend to be on the phone. This is to look ‘normal’ to the unsuspecting victim. Sometimes the suspect is dropped off in front of the victim. He will walk towards you, grab your cell phone, jump into the car and drive off.

    “At night, cell phone screens light up and are clearly visible from outside the vehicle. Motorists are encouraged to focus on the road and their environment and not text while at a traffic light or stuck in traffic.”

    Here are some safety tips as recommended by the policing forum:

    •  Be alert and observant in your environment
    •  Do not walk alone at night, especially in dark areas
    •  Avoid making calls and listening to music while walking in the streets
    •  Conceal your cell phone in your pocket or bag
    •  Do not expose your cell phone at all – criminals are less likely to attack if they can’t see your phone.

    Source: Sandton Chronicle