Over the last several weeks the people of Gaborone have been victims of criminals preventing their vehicles from locking by using devices (usually disguised as mobile phones) to jam the signals of alarm remotes. The car appears to be locking as usual – the lights will flash however the alarm will not make the noise that signals the car is locked and the vehicle remains unlocked. After the person walks away from the car the criminals simply opens the unlocked car and take whatever they please – Laptops, briefcases, even things in the boot are not safe.
The process was explained in the Pretoria News. “Most manufacturers of car and gate remotes use a fixed frequency. If two remote controls are activated simultaneously and within range of each other, the signals that are transmitting interfere with one another.”
There were at least eight incidents of this happening at Mowana Park in one week alone. During the week of June 5th the Bot.swana police reported 14 cases of laptops being stolen from unattended vehicles. (Note – Insurance claims for stolen items are usually rejected if there is no evidence of forced entry.)
“There were two guys standing by where I parked my car. One was holding phone acting like he was speaking to somebody. I tried to lock my car but couldn’t, I looked at them with an angry face, I took out my phone and acted like I was phoning. I tried to lock again and it locked, they immediately left because they could see that I had seen what they wanted to do.” Said one aware citizen (via email) of her experience at Riverwalk recently.
At Game City a man waited for a golden BMW to exit a parking space. As the driver of the BMW reversed he took out what looked like mobile phone. Then he drove around and parked again in the space directly opposite the man’s car, still holding the phone. When the would-be victim pressed the remote to lock the car it would not. He tried several times, then got back in his car and drove to another parking space further away from the BMW and the car locked without any problems.
What sounds like an urban myth has become a reality in Gaborone. Spread the word and be aware. Take an extra second to pull the handle, make sure your vehicle is locked. If you have been a victim of this kind of crime please let us know via the SMS line. Let your Voice be heard.