When it comes to your personal safety in a busy urban area, a little knowledge goes a long way. So says the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), an organisation with 15 years’ experience in securing the Cape Town CBD.
According to CCID statistics, five people have fallen victim to pickpocketing in the past two weeks alone – and these are only the cases that have been reported to them.
“In the Central Business District and specifically Long Street, criminals exploit the fact that it is a very busy area frequented by both locals and tourists. The type of crimes prevalent in this area include mugging, pickpocketing, robbery, ATM scams and theft out of motor vehicles,” Mayco member for Safety and Security JP Smith said to IOL.
The CCID has released tips on how to stay safe from pickpockets and other criminal on the CBD streets, especially at night:
On the street
– If you’re out for dinner or dancing, make sure you’ve planned your route beforehand and have told someone where you are going and when you expect to return. Also remember, it’s best to travel in groups.
– Be aware of public lighting. The rule of thumb is you shouldn’t walk in areas with inadequate lighting. If an area looks dark or deserted, change your route. And, of course, if you’re driving, try to park in a well-lit area as close to your destination as possible.
– Double check that your car is locked – try the handle to make sure, and avoid becoming a victim of remote jamming. Make sure you have left no valuables in sight, as these may entice window smashers.
– If you’ve decided to leave your car at home and take a cab instead, make sure it belongs to an accredited service provider.
– On your way to the restaurant or club, keep your handbag close to your body. Don’t use your cellphone while walking, and keep it – and your purse – safely tucked away.
– You should also avoid the obvious visibility of valuables such as jewellery. Never carry large sums of money and – it should go without saying – avoid counting your money in the open. Only use ATMs in well-lit areas and watch out for people standing close to you, who may be looking over your shoulder as you enter your pin.
– If you’re out and about on the street and feel in any way intimidated, make your way immediately to a well-lit venue and ask for assistance.
At your destination
Unfortunately, some establishments become hotspots for theft and other crimes. To make sure your night out isn’t ruined, follow this advice: it’s best not to place handbags under tables, on the backs of chairs or on restroom hooks. The same with cellphones or wallets on restaurant tables. And never leave your drink unattended.
What to do if you are a victim of crimes
Stay calm and follow all instructions. Try to remember the characteristics of the attacker so you can accurately describe them when you report the crime to the SAPS.
Keep an eye out for your man
According to becitysmart.co.za, an initiative that helps to keep the public safe and that uses real CCTV footage to shed light on common crimes, it’s easy to become a victim of a scam on a busy street. One of these is the notorious shoe scam, which is commonly perpetrated on men.
It goes like this: you are approached in the street by a man who ostensibly compliments your shoes. As he points at them, distracting you, he picks your pocket and subtly passes your wallet or cellphone to an accomplice passing by. Beware of such ploys.