My brother was driving back home one evening, and was near the Paradise circle (in Secunderabad), waiting for the traffic signal to go green. He had the car windows rolled down on his and the passenger’s side, enjoying the winter breeze.
Just as the signal went green and he drove ahead, a guy came thumping on the driver’s side and claimed, “You just ran over my foot!” My brother, obviously surprised, stopped the car, but even before he could respond, the guy said, “But it’s fine! You can go now.” He was still confused, but drove on.
As he crossed the signal, he realized that the songs playing on the mobile phone (through the car’s speakers) had stopped. He looked at the passenger seat where he had kept both his mobile phones, and lo, both had disappeared. He was a victim of the diversion technique often used by burglars to rob drivers of their phones, wallets, purses and even laptops.
Incidentally there was a piece in the newspaper the next day about a couple getting robbed of 4 lakh rupees, which they had minutes before withdrawn from the bank. A diversion technique was used in their case as well.
This incident reminded me of a few other from years ago, where burglars would enter the car when you were at the signal, and force you on gun/knife-point to give away your valuables like laptops, jewelry & cash, sometimes even the car.
My brother visited the police station right then, and was advised certain tips, which I would like to share here. It is all common sense, but things we often overlook until such an incident occurs.
- Keep your windows rolled up: It saves you from the noise and air pollution, in addition to theft. For those of us who need the fresh air and/or care about the car’s mileage:
- Keep your window rolled up half way
- Keep the passenger side window closed
- Have no valuables on the passenger seat (I have seen many ladies keep their purse there)
- Keep the car doors locked: Keep the doors locked from the inside, so there is no chance of a forced entry
- Don’t leave behind any valuables in the car: Most companies’ IT policies will mandate that you not leave your laptops in the car’s back seat when you are stepping away from the car. Use the car’s boot instead. This is true for other valuables as well. As any Delhite would know (at least from a few years back), it is very easy to break the glass and steal stuff (audio systems were a very common item stolen back then).
- Don’t get out of the car: There were rumours a while back about drivers seeing an infant alone on the road crying, and when they would get off, a gang would appear. There was another forward which talked about someone throwing an egg on your car’s windshield, which when you try to clean using the wiper (& water), it impacted visibility, forcing you stop the car, get out and clean the mess. Of course, once you would get out…! I don’t know if these rumours are true, but why take a chance? It’s best to stay put in your car, more so when you are in an isolated area.
- Stay focused: There will be calls to make, music that transports you to a different world, etc…but remember, it’s best to always stay focused & alert when you are in the car.
If you have any other tips, please do share them.
Stay safe…stay alert!