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Overcoming ‘traffic thieves’ in city centres

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Traffic gridlock. Photo Guardian Nigeria


With the Yuletide over, cities across the country return to their old selves and security apparatuses set up by various state governments to make the celebration crime-free also relaxed.

While this remains the case, commuters, including those returning to their various stations should not be carried away with the calmness so created, as traffic thieves could capitalise on the serene situation to carry out their evil. Most times, victims of these thieves attract harm to themselves through their negligence. They do this by the way they talk, look or flaunt their property.

Criminals are not spirits, they are humans, who depend on ‘street madness’ to carry out their dastardly acts. To prevent them, one has to restrict valuable information to circles of trusted friends.

For Obi Azuka, many people are so carried away by the fun of the time that they become careless. They believe every passenger is innocent and cannot hurt them or every trader is guileless. He noted that many commuters fail to realise that some criminals disguise as friends. He cautioned passengers to be wary of those who come near their vehicles, luggage and even children, either at the park or in traffic, saying many have through this lost valuable items and even loved ones.

Obi also admonished travellers to board their vehicles at registered designations and parks, noting that this would enable their names and other particulars to be entered in the transport company’s manifest. He disclosed this has the advantages of making a passenger to make claims for any misplaced or damaged valuables by the company and as well enable their relatives to be informed in case of any mishap on the road.

“It would enable a passenger to trace a vehicle and report any case of theft to the police,” he said, and warned that boarding vehicles outside a registered park is a very big risk, as such vehicles might be a trap set by some mischievous people to dispossess passengers in haste of their money and other valuables.

Kelvin Omoihe, a private security officer, revealed that traffic thieves are always in a hurry because they are not properly-armed and as such would want to take as many items as they could while the operation lasts. And to beat them in their game, one has to split one’s money, if at all one has to travel with a huge sum of money.

“Carry a small amount of money in your pocket and bags, while the real sum is stocked away in your luggage, that is if you must travel to a location where there is no ATM or electronic means of transferring money. Doing this would save you from losing all your money when attacked,” he said.Omoihe also wants travellers to carry one ATM at a time and if one has to travel with more than one ATM card such cards should be kept in different compartments of the car or hidden in one’s luggage because traffic thieves could drag one to the nearest ATM machine to withdraw money when they are sighted.

He also warned against downloading bank details into the phone because this could expose owners of such phones to the risk of losing the money in their bank account in case such expensive phones are stolen before they could get to their banks to stop any transaction on their behalf. Omoihe noted that some people were fond of playing games and doing others things with their phones in traffic, saying such acts expose them to the risk of losing their expensive phones.

He admonished travellers to avoid the urge of picking calls, especially when they are sitting at window side, as such phones could easily be snatched and they might not be able to run after the thief.“Put your phones in silence whenever you are in heavy traffic, especially at places prone to crime. You can make all the calls you want when you leave such hotspots and if you are behind the wheel, place your phone under your seat because these traffic thieves are hasty and would pick anything that catches their fancy. Do not expose your items. Besides, there is nothing wrong in putting your handbag in the boot of your car or under your seat when in public vehicle for safety,” he said.

For Remi Odunayo, a former commercial vehicle escort, “we cannot run away from the hotspots because they are part of our homes and they exist in all states across the country, but rather we should be more vigilant, lookout for any suspicious character and know how to avoid them.” He noted that these thieves are always on the lookout for items to grab and run away, saying that passengers should be mindful of their jewelry, including wristwatches when sitting by the window side or buying something in traffic.

According to him, it is safer for drivers to stop at designated parks for passengers to ease themselves and buy what they want than to stop at any spot for this, saying the advantage is that these thieves would not carry out their evil activities and if they do, they would be easily caught at parks. “Drivers have to make use of their senses, mirrors and if possible, discourage passengers from buying things from traders, while in traffic because some of the traffic thieves come in form of traders and take the advantage of their closeness to their would-be customer to rob them of their belongings. Put your valuables from view. Put your handbags and other valuables under your seat, in the glove box or preferably, in your boot. Traffic thieves are attracted by the things they see. If they do not see any valuable, they will leave you alone and move on,” he said.

For Kofi Anas, the most effective weapon against these road vandals is to be confident. Do not panic, but do not fight because they may be armed and could shoot at any slightest provocation.According to him, showing confidence would put fear in them, believing that you could be armed, especially now that having light weapons is common among the people.


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Obi Azukatraffic thieves
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