Friday, July 19, 2024

FIRST WITH SECURITY NEWS

Fuel for thought: How crime syndicates are taking over fuel stations

Published on

Fuel stations – a necessary stop for motorists – have become a new hotspot for criminal syndicates. Most of these stations are open all hours of the day, and we frequently visit them to fill up our cars or for a quick snack on a long drive. Fuel stations are also known to have several ATMs for convenient withdrawals. Large signs at fuel stations that state that the keys to the cash safe are not kept on site have been visible on entrance doors long before this criminal syndicates existed. The convenience of these stations has turned it an easy hunting ground for criminals who want to prey on clientele.

Crime syndicates provide structures for the criminals to coordinate their efforts in hijackings, money theft, pickpocketing, blowing up ATMs and cash safes, robbing cash-in-transit vehicles and scamming shoppers. This collective effort is shared to enable criminals to follow through with their illicit operations.

Abusing convenience

Most motorists can simply unlock their vehicles for the fuel cap to open. This smart and convenient feature is the perfect add-on for criminals: they can now open any door, sneak in and demand whatever they want. Fuel stations require a minimal workforce in often out-of-the-way areas, giving criminals the perfect environment to operate in.

One of the most concerning phenomena is the increase in ATM bombings at fuel stations. Criminals know that these machines are attractive targets. The impact of these attacks goes beyond theft, however; it threatens lives, causes major property damage and disrupts the fuel station’s operations. Another concern is the growing trend to blow open cash safes at fuel stations, which poses serious hazards to everyone nearby. These attacks not only cause financial losses but also impact negatively on general business activities and safety in the region.

Take control of your own safety

There has never been a more pressing time to take your safety into your own hands. Neighbourhood watches are practical, real-life ways to increase safety. AfriForum has more than 172 established neighbourhood watches across the country. Our neighbourhood watches ensure better safety, prevent crime and regularly arrest suspicious persons. Regular patrols can help prevent these crimes from occurring at fuel stations since the visible presence of AfriForum patrols acts as a deterrent. Members of neighbourhood watches are also trained carefully in their rights and responsibilities, while they also receive training in self-defence and the use of radios.

We also urge motorists to be aware of their surroundings at fuel stations. Creating awareness of the problem can help prevent these criminal syndicates from existing.

Fuel station syndicates are a disturbing trend that calls for immediate action. By participating in your community’s neighbourhood watch and by raising awareness, we can reclaim these essential places from the grip of criminals. It is a collective responsibility to ensure that a simple act of refuelling or buying a snack does not become a perilous endeavour. The safety of our communities depends on it.

Charné Mostert is a campaigns officer at AfriForum. She holds an honours degree in international politics from the University of South Africa.

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