“It was like a scene from a drama, says Remi Adetola, “Just on the traffic towards Ajah bridge, Ilaje bus-stop precisely. I heard a loud crash through the glass window of my front passenger seat, before I could realize what was going on the young man had broken my window, stretched his hands into my car and grabbed my handbag which I kept on the seat beside me and had dashed across the road to the other side. I was dumb-founded”. For Lagos state road commuters this is a familiar occurrence. People are attacked daily in their vehicles in this manner while on the traffic. Just recently a gang of traffic jam robbers were apprehended by the Nigerian Police Force, apparently one of the largest burst of such syndicates in recent times. From what we learnt from them, we can be more prepared for such attack in future. Below are what we discovered.
They often work in groups of two to four disguised as hawkers or beggars, they case each car by looking into the car to detect any form of potential valuable items like mobile phones, money, handbags and other items. Then they distract attention by engaging the driver, while other members of the gang quietly dispossessed the unsuspecting motorist.
Some of these groups brazenly attack motorists in broad day light, they often target motorists who are alone in the car. Like an apprehended robber confessed, “We have been very successful before because Lagosians are timid. They flee at the sight of anything even if it is toy gun. We have not been having issues and we have been making money.”
Given such attacks how do we protect ourselves or avoid being victims? Be smart, separate your money- Put parts of your money in secret compartments of your purse, bag, whatever. Traffic robbers will have to know where to look in order to steal everything.
Never leave valuables where it can easily be reached or spotted while on transit. You can put your valuables in the trunk of your car or away from the eyes of people on the road.
If possible always have more than one occupant in the car. Traffic robbers do not like a crowded vehicle because it reduces their chances of making a get away.
Never stick your hand out of the car on the traffic when you are putting on jewelries or wrist-watch. This can easily be snatched from you or you can find yourself seriously injured.
I witnessed one at CMS last year.