Crime is at its peak and criminals now rule the roost. People do not know when and where they will be robbed of their cars and valuables at gun-point. People become vulnerable to robbers and other criminals when returning after late night parties especially wedding parties because women sometime wear heavy gold jewellery and also carry cash and other valuables. In addition their car in which they are traveling becomes a great attraction to criminals. However with little courage and by using common sense people can avoid the risk of becoming a victim to criminals. Following precautionary measures are suggested:-

If you have decided to attend the wedding party

1. Be aware of the general security situation in the area you intend to visit through newspapers and electronic media.

2. Always select a safe route to reach the venue and also alternate routes for return journey.

3. Ensure that your car is in the best mechanical condition and not likely to breakdown on the way.

4. Fill enough fuel in your car before commencing your journey so that it doesn’t go short even you have to take a long route in an emergency situation.

5.  Feed phone numbers of emergency police, ambulance service, fire brigade and any taxi service/rant-a-car service in your mobile phone and ensure that its battery is fully charged and there is enough balance in it to make long calls.

6. Keep in mind names and locations of hospitals on the route to your venue and if possible feed phone numbers of these hospitals in your mobile phone.

7.  Also keep in mind the locations of military and police establishments on or near your route. So that you can take safe haven on sensing some danger or chased by criminals because criminals always avoid going near such places.

8. Remain in contact with your near and dear ones on mobile phone so that they can be contacted immediately to help you in an emergency situation.

9. Ensure that another member of you family who is traveling in your car knows driving in case of emergency.

10.  Make sure that you and the other standby driver also know how to change the wheel if it is punctured or get burst some where. Keep emergency light, spare wheel and necessary tool ready in your car.

11.  Always keep the doors of your car locked and window glasses rolled up especially when stopped at an intersection. Criminals generally wait there to pounce on their target guised as beggars or lift seekers etc.

12.  Never offer lift to a stranger even to a woman or child as they might be a plant by criminals.

While returning after the wedding party

1. If possible plan to return in groups of 2-3 cars on a mutually decided route.

2. Both men and women are advised to remove any jewellery they are wearing and to hide it somewhere in the car. Do not, however, hide jewellery in your purse, as robbers might ask you to hand this over too.

3. After leaving a little amount of money in your wallet or purse, hide your money and all other items such as your NIC, credit card, ATM card, driving licence etc, somewhere inside your car. Never keep any of these items in your pockets, as criminals sometimes make their victims empty their pockets too.

4. If you get stuck in a traffic jam then keep all the doors of your car locked and the windows rolled up. If you require fresh air, do not roll your window down more than two inches. Robbers generally robe occupants of vehicles stuck in traffic jam.

7. If someone knocks at your window, do not slide it down or open your door. If a criminal threatens you through the window, start honking the horn to attract peoples’ attention. Many criminals leave immediately for fear of being caught. If this fails, then remain calm, and slide your window down.

8. Try to carry an old (discarded) cell phone in your car, and give this to the criminal rather than your own cell phone. Make sure to keep your cell phone on silent in the car under your seat. Criminals do not bother to check the condition of the cell phone as they are often in a hurry.

It is a well known saying that prevention is better than cure. Thus, I have come up with a few preventative measures that may prove to be useful to people who might find themselves in a situation where they could get robbed.

SQN LDR (RETD) S.AUSAF HUSAIN,

Karachi, February 13.