Airport Safety Tips

Over the last few weeks, officials from both OR Tambo International airport and the South African Police Service have warned travellers against a worrying trend – follow-home robberies. While the trend isn’t particularly new, police say there has been a marked increase in this type of crime.

Often targeting tourists visiting our country, the criminals usually follow unsuspecting travellers as they make their way from the airport to their next location. With the intent to rob travellers of their luggage, electronic devices and cash, police admit they are concerned.

While police and officials at Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) are doing what they can to prevent these criminals from succeeding in their plans, those travelling from the airport are also advised to keep a few things in mind to ensure their safety.

AT THE AIRPORT

  • Keep a close eye on those around you, even security officials. If you feel unsafe at any time speak to airport management.
  • Avoid displaying any valuable items when exiting the terminal. Keep wallets, phones, tablets, cameras and laptops hidden when possible.
  • Try and limit the amount of money you carry when leaving the airport.
  • Avoid accepting assistance from strangers. They could be sussing out the situation, trying to determine whether you’re an easy target.
  • Don’t tell a stranger where you’re headed.

WHEN YOU’RE ON YOUR WAY

  • Only make use of reputable transport services when you’re relying on public transport. If you’re making use of a shuttle service from a hotel, give them a call first to make sure it is indeed their driver.
  • Phone your hotel or the individual you’ll be staying with to let them know when you’re leaving the airport.
  • Keep your eyes open while on the road. If you suspect you’re being followed, make your way to the nearest police station or busy public area and ask for help. If you’re not the one driving, inform the driver immediately.
  • Avoid any distractions while in the car such as a phone or fidgeting with the radio. You might not notice if someone’s following you.

UPON ARRIVAL

  • Drive up slowly to your destination and keep a close eye on your surroundings.
  • If you feel unsafe, rather continue driving to a well-lit, busy public space or a police station.
  • Avoid driving into the driveway immediately. If it’s your own home or office, park parallel to the entrance while you wait for the gate to open. Should someone approach you before you can make it into the premises safely, you can still easily drive away.
  • If possible, have someone ready to open and close the gate once you arrive at your destination.

IF APPROACHED

  • Do not lose your temper or threaten the assailants. The more you panic, the more they panic.
  • Do exactly as the assailants tell you.
  • Hand over your belongings as instructed. No phone or car is worth your life.
  • Do not reach for your purse or phone when asked to exit the vehicle. The assailants might think you’re reaching for a weapon. Just exit the vehicle quickly and as calmly as possible.
  • Remain calm and try to keep those around you calm as well.
  • Don’t make any sudden movements.
  • Try and take in as much detail as possible. This could make things easier for the police. Pay attention to things like:
  • Number of assailants.
    • Any firearms or weapons being used and what they look like.
    • What clothing the assailants are wearing.
    • Which direction they drove or ran off to.
    • What language the assailants are speaking and whether they have any accent.
  • Once you know you’re out of harm’s way, and the assailants have fled, contact the police immediately. You can phone them on 08600 10111 or 122 on a mobile phone.

Sources: OR Tambo International Airport, ACSA, SAPS