Safety when witnessing crime on the roads

JOHANNESBURG – Personal safety is the first priority when reporting a crime, no heroic gesture is worth your own life, warns Arrive Alive.

According to Arrive Alive, nearly every day people are warned of or hear about a protest action, a hijack or a cash-in-transit robbery. 

In a statement, Arrive Alive addressed what we can do when witnessing criminal activity on our roads, whether or not we should assist our fellow road users when witnessing these incidents and what we need to know about reporting incidents to the police and others?

There are numerous crimes that are committed on or near our roads which impact road users such as:

  • Criminals targeting private property: Cash-in-transit robberies, hijackings, vehicle theft, theft from vehicles, smash-and-grabs.
  • Criminals targeting public property and infrastructure: Damaging roads, vandalism of traffic signs and traffic lights, theft of manhole covers and road barriers.
  • Usage of vehicles in committing criminal acts: Reckless and illegal driving activities such as hit-and-runs, road rage and making obscene gestures.

“We also find criminals placing rocks and other structures on the road surface or throwing rocks from bridges onto vehicles with the intent of causing a road crash to rob crash victims of their possessions.”

Arrive Alive said that all of us and our loved ones are worthy of protection and safety. We may all at some stage become the victim or need assistance to recover from the impact of the criminal activity. “When you witnessed a crime, it is important to consider reporting it to the police. Although the consequences include that you may be required to testify, you will do your social responsibility and, in some way, prevent future similar crimes.”

Arrive Alive said that personal safety is the first priority when reporting a crime: 

  • The golden rule is personal safety first
  • You firstly need to consider your own safety – if this includes avoiding a confrontation, that will be the way to go
  • Our instinct is often to help the victim(s) in question, yet, one should not get involved, especially when criminals are armed.
  • Do not try to be a hero e.g. crashing into the car of the culprit or trying to make a private arrest, as this may endanger your life. No heroic gesture is worth your own life. Furthermore, the witness won’t be any help to anyone should he/she sustain an injury.
  • Pay attention to the road, leaving enough distance between yourself and the position of the incident to ensure safety from explosive material, broken glass or leaked fuel resulting from a cash-in-transit heist or bombing.
  • A witness should never draw attention to themselves or antagonise the suspects by hooting, hollering, or be seen to be taking images/videos of the incident.
  • If you are followed, consider forwarding a moving locator, if your phone is equipped with this app, to a friend or family member.
  • If you are not driving, you may consider making an audio recording of what you see on your phone if it could be done inconspicuously. You may raise the threat to your safety if you are observed recording the crime.

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