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Six tips to keep Bobbing Billy at bay

2015-01-21 08:19

SUDDEN IMPACT: A friendly dance (checking your goodies) then a spark-plug through your car's window before your handbag disappears. Image: Supplied


A video released by British authorities showed how police in Enfield, England attacked a suspect's car. Watch as members of the Enfield crime squad violently attack a Mini Cooper belonging to a man they suspected of handling stolen goods!

The ever-present and ever-increasing incidence of smash-'n-grab attacks committed by spark-plug thugs - such as the one highlighted in our video taken at the junction of Cambridge and Witkoppen roads in northern Johannesburg, demands immediate and effective action

But that ain't likely to happen, is it! So, look after No.1 - no, not THAT No.1, he has bodyguards and you don't.


According to Robyn Farrell, executive head of 1st for Women Insurance: “Although the police are taking steps to combat smash-'n-grab incidents across Gauteng it is up to you, the road user, to avoid becoming a victim by remaining as vigilant and alert as possible.”

So she's put forward some tips (they've been edited by Wheels24) to avoid being a smash-'n-grab target:

DO leave your side windows open by a couple of centimetres to allow the glass to flex when it is hit by, even perhaps absorb the sudden impact of, a spark plug ahead of the grab attempt.

DON'T leave anything worth stealing on any seat - that's exactly what the cheerful guy bobbing around your car with his hands open is looking for - really, he doesn't care how you are this morning, he's just trying to see what riches you have lying about ready to be grabbed. So, put your briefcase or handbag in the boot or under your seat

VIDEO: See how it happens!

BE SUPER-ALERT at traffic lights-controlled road junctions or in a queue at a STOP street. You are, literally, a sitting duck: Bobbing Billy has you at his mercy, like scanning a shelf for goodies. If he sees nothing worth nicking, he'll leave you alone. Unless, of course, you're stupid enough to have your R10 000 cellphone in full view.

LEAVE a half-car length between your vehicle and the stationary one ahead. If trouble looms (and traffic is clear, be aware!) you can swing the wheel and drive out of trouble.

ANTICIPATE TRAFFIC LIGHTS: Watch the traffic lights ahead. If they've been green for a while they'll probably go red on you. So, slow right down (to heck with the cars behind) and try to time your arrival at the junction line. Extra benefit: a car, even moving only at walking pace, is very difficult to penetrate even if the spark plug is hurled.

HERE'S THE BEST IDEA: Have polycarbonate shade film put on your windows. The tint makes it difficult to see into your car (tough on Bobbing Billy) and the film won't break when the spark-plug strikes. Perhaps not the glass either... but if it does the film, staying in place, will prevent glass cuts.

Finally, from Farrell: "In the event of a smash-'n-grab attack stay calm, do not show aggression or threaten or challenge the thief.  A handbag or cellphone can replaced, you life cannot."

Wheels24 has other suggestions, but they're probably illegal. Meanwhile, Facebook this to your friends to help THEM stay out of trouble with Bobbing Billy.

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