Double Distress as criminals target accident victims

Ladies, beware – theft from accident victims is on the rise…

As if being involved in a vehicle accident isn’t enough to leave you shaken, a shocking new trend sees criminals taking the opportunity to target stranded motorists after an accident.

Rescue Care operations director, Garrith Jamieson says: “Theft from accident victims is not uncommon and we often see cases like this. People are often trapped and injured in their cars and criminals take advantage of that to rob them blind.” Johannesburg’s EMS’s spokesperson, Robert Mulaudzi, concurs, saying it happens a lot.

According to Casey Rousseau, Marketing Manager of 1st for Women Insurance: “These opportunistic criminals prey on those who are at their most vulnerable for items like cellphones, jewellery, handbags and laptops. It’s abhorrent that criminals are targeting accident victims, and we urge motorists, to be prepared, just in case.”

Knowing this is enough to put many of us off of driving completely, but there is so much we can do to make sure that we don’t become another statistic and it starts with being vigilant and aware.

Also read: 12 things to remember when your car breaks down 

It’s also worth getting to know your insurance policy, as many of them provide roadside assistance services, such as 1st for Women’s ‘Guardian Angel on Call’ app, to keep you monitored, safe and assisted in the aftermath of an accident.

If you are in an accident or if your car breaks down on the side of the road, vigilance and constant awareness of your surroundings is crucial to ensuring your safety. 1st for Women Insurance has some tips to help you stay safe:

  • If your car is still driveable or movable, make sure to put a safe distance between yourself and other traffic. Switch on your hazard lights to warn other motorists that there is a problem.
  • If the accident doesn’t render your car totally undriveable, it’s wise to keep your car idling to enable you to make a fast escape from a dangerous situation, should the need arise.
  • Make sure that all doors are locked and all windows are closed.
  • Let a family member, colleague or friend know that you’re in a predicament and ask them to check up on you telephonically every half an hour.
  • Try to remain in your vehicle, but if there is a place of safety nearby, like a restaurant, garage or shopping centre, remove all valuables from your vehicle, lock it and go there while you wait for the tow truck to arrive.  If not, lock all doors and wait inside your vehicle until help arrives.
  • Do not accept help from strangers, but rather wait for officials to arrive.
  • If your car breaks down in the dark, don’t draw additional attention to the fact that you are alone in the car by switching on the cabin lights inside the vehicle.
  • Make sure that your car is fitted with anti-smash and grab film, as this offers an extra layer of protection.
  • Get into the habit of having your phone sufficiently charged before driving anywhere.
  • Be on high alert at all times. Getting distracted for extended periods of time is a major risk.
  • Contact your insurance company immediately or open the Guardian Angel on Call app.