Security services company Fidelity ADT has warned of pedestrians increasingly being targeted while waiting for e-hailing services, public transport or commuting to and from work.

Charnel Hattingh, the group head of marketing and communications at Fidelity said the issue of cell phone snatching happens any time of the day, whether people are dining at restaurants, leaving their phones on the table or if they are waiting outside on the pavement for an Uber.

“I urge everyone not to be complacent; we have noticed a re-emerging trend where criminals are driving around pretending to be an e-hailing service looking for opportunities to commit a crime.”

She noted that the below areas had been hit the hardest:

  • Bryanston
  • Rivonia
  • Rosebank
  • Parktown
  • Sandton

Hattingh said that criminals are currently pretending to be Ubers and target unsuspecting victims, urging residents to be vigilant.

“In the West Rand area, specifically the Honeydew precinct, people are being targeted outside shopping centres,” she added.

Fidelity ADT said citizens take the following steps to prevent being targeted:

  • Make sure you know what the load shedding roster is so that you can plan your walk to a certain destination. Never walk in darkness, so ensure you can return home before it is dark.
  • Don’t walk with earphones listening to music. You have to be able to look and listen.
  • Where possible, walk with someone to just make you a little less vulnerable. Two people can also help to identify the perpetrators and the vehicle they are travelling in better than one.
  • If you are a victim of an attempted phone snatching, remember to report the incident, even if it was just an attempt. A crime is not a crime and will not get recorded unless it is reported.
  • Hide your valuables/cell phone in your bag or inside your jacket pocket. You need to ensure your phone is not visible to passers-by. You must also never talk on your phone while out walking as this makes you an easy target.

“Remember that criminals are usually nervous and working under pressure so they can make mistakes. It is better to just give them what they want and avoid being injured,” added Hattingh.

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