13 tips to avoid being robbed in traffic jams
The crime rate in our cities has steadily increased and after the rains, criminals have found yet another way to rob people. Thanks to the ineptitude of the police, thieves have found easy targets in motorists caught in traffic jams while they are stuck on the road due to knee deep water.
On September 6 it rained heavily in Karachi and numerous people were robbed while they were stuck in traffic jams, trying to return home from work. The situation swiftly got more dangerous when the street lights went off. Criminals have an in-depth understanding of the locations in cities where motorists will be at their weakest; they know the area patrolled by the police, and they know which areas will be susceptible to traffic jams due to water pooling on the roads. Sadly, despite so many robberies, the police has failed to provide adequate security.
It is a well known saying that prevention is better than cure. Thus, I have come up with a few preventative measures that may prove to be useful to people who might find themselves in a situation where they could get robbed.
1. On noticing the gathering of dark clouds, if you are out of your house, try to leave whatever you are doing and get home as soon as possible. This way, you could avoid getting stuck in a traffic jam caused by the rain.
2. Select a route where there are no known sites of water pooling on the road to avoid getting caught in a traffic jam.
3. Both men and women are advised to remove any jewellery they are wearing and to hide it somewhere in the car. Do not, however, hide jewellery in your purse, as robbers might ask you to hand this over too.
4. Before getting in to your car, make sure that your valuables, like your laptop, briefcase, cell phone, and so on are not visible to people outside your car. Hide them under the car seat or in the dashboard. It is a good idea to step outside your car just to make sure that they are indeed not visible.
5. After leaving a little amount of money in your wallet or purse, hide your money and all other items such as your NIC, credit card, ATM card etc, somewhere inside your car. Never keep any of these items in your pockets, as criminals sometimes make their victims empty their pockets too.
6. If you get stuck in a traffic jam then keep all the doors of your car locked and the windows rolled up. If you require fresh air, do not roll your window down more than two inches.
7. If someone knocks at your window, do not slide it down or open your door. If a criminal threatens you through the window, start honking the horn to attract peoples’ attention. Many criminals leave immediately for fear of being caught. If this fails, then remain calm, and slide your window down.
8. If a robber asks you to hand over your wallet and cell phone, do so without resistance.
9. Try to carry an old (discarded) cell phone in your car, and give this to the criminal rather than your own cell phone. Make sure to keep your cell phone on silent in the car under your seat. Criminals do not bother to check the condition of the cell phone as they are often in a hurry.
10. Try to carry duplicate keys of your car at all time as robbers sometimes take away the keys of your car.
11. Keep your FM radio on to find directions so you can adopt routes which are safe to drive during heavy rains.
12. If you have a licensed pistol or revolver then carry it concealed under your clothes for your protection and the protection of other occupants in your car. Under Section 96 and 97 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) you can defend yourself if attacked.
13. Always plan and be mentally prepared to stay at the house of your friend or relative if rains are severe and if your house is a great distance away. It is also a good idea to stay at a hotel if you are stranded till the rain subsides.
Factory workers and students tend to suffer the most during the rains. Organizations and educational institutions should prepare contingency plans to house their employees. They should also ensure that their in-house cafeteria/canteen remains open so that food is also available.
The maxim “better safe than sorry” is indeed true when faced with the very real threat of being robbed.
If you find yourself facing a gun, do not try to pull a heroic stunt – you might lose your life.
Please keep the above points in mind while you venture out on to the roads of Karachi. Perhaps, they will save many of you the damages that might otherwise occur.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.