Sunday, July 02, 2006

Vehicle Robbery Techniques

ANSO recently reported on a vehicle robbery technique that was gaining popularity in Kabul. The modus operandi is not especially new, and is widely used throughout the world with many variations (for both robbery and kidnapping purposes). Here’s how it goes.

A targeted vehicle has one or more of its tire punctured or slashed while stopped for traffic or parked (the tire sidewalls are considerably more vulnerable than the tread, and are the favored location to flat a tire). Sharpened implements can be attached to a shoe or sandal, so the criminal can unobtrusively puncture a tire by kicking it. There may be a distraction involved to draw the driver's attention away from the tire being punctured.

An accomplice then notifies the driver about the flat tire either verbally or by pointing. The natural tendency is for the driver is to pull over to examine the flat (the driver will feel that the tire is flat as he moves forward) and then change it. At this point the driver, passenger (if present), vehicle, and property inside the vehicle are all vulnerable. A planned attack uses different people, each playing a role (the tire slasher, the person who tells the driver, and the actual thieves or kidnappers). The crime is committed after the driver stops and exits the vehicle, with an escape vehicle waiting or the target location chosen so the perpetrators can quickly and effectively escape on foot. Practiced criminals can pull-off these types of attacks in a very short amount of time.

Like most criminal activities, driver and passenger awareness is key to prevention. If you suspect a tire has been purposely flattened, do not immediately stop to fix it. Drive at least several hundred meters away which should put you outside the target zone. It’s possible to temporarily drive on a flat tire for short distances at low speeds (under 10 miles per hour). Keep in mind that steering will be impacted and not feel very responsive.

As you drive, pay attention if people or vehicles seem to be purposely following you. If so it’s probably a good time to use your radio or mobile phone to call in to the office and report what’s happening. In such cases your goal will be to generally try to get to a safe location.

Locking the doors and rolling up the windows while changing a flat tire is also a good idea, since it can prevent thieves from stealing any property (laptops, mobile phones, briefcases, etc.) that may be laying on a seat while the driver is distracted changing a tire.

Vehicle-related crimes usually follow common patterns, with criminals using techniques that have proven successful in the past. Staying current with crime trends and incidents will help you better assess the potential for these types of events to occur.


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