North West police have warned second-hand car dealerships along the N12 in Klerksdorp to "exercise caution" when prospective clients approach them.
The warning comes after a recent hijacking, according to provincial police spokesperson Colonel Adéle Myburgh.
In one of the incidents, suspects pretended to be buyers and requested to test drive a bakkie. They were accompanied by the dealership's salesperson.
During the test drive, the suspects suddenly stopped on a deserted road, pointed a firearm at the dealer, instructed him to get out of the bakkie and drove off. The dealership had no information available on the alleged hijackers.
"Dealerships are requested to ensure they have a signed indemnity form completed by the prospective client, that includes a copy of their ID or motor vehicle licence or thumbprint, before granting a test drive," Myburgh said.
"Police in the province would also like to urge members of the community to be careful when they respond to online advertisements, especially for livestock and vehicle sales in the areas of Makwassie, Leeudoringstad, Boskuil, Wolmaransstad and Jouberton."
Myburgh said on January 14, in Jouberton, a potential client saw an advertisement of a Toyota Avanza on Facebook. He called the seller and arranged to meet him. During the first meeting it was agreed that the buyer will pay cash and first test drive the vehicle.
"He returned later the same day, accompanied by three friends. When meeting the seller in Jouberton, the seller and his friends were surrounded by a group of about 14 people, armed with firearms and pangas. They were robbed of a substantial amount of cash and their personal items such as cellphones were stolen, before being allowed to leave the scene."
Myburgh warned the public to exercise caution when responding to online advertisements and to avoid becoming victims by applying the following prevention tips:
- Don't meet strangers at your home or in strictly residential areas;
- Instead, meet in a nearby shopping area, at a grocery store, fast food restaurant, parking lot or at a police station;
- Make sure the area is busy and filled with lots of people. Daytime is better. If you must meet after dark, make sure the area is well lit and there are lots of people around;
- It's a good idea to bring a friend, or even two. Let other friends or family know of your plans. Have them check on you at a specific time after the meeting if you don't call them first;
- Be sure to have your cellphone with you;
- If you are selling or buying something and become suspicious of the buyer or seller for any reason, don't let them in your car, but leave immediately. For example, don't be afraid to say: "I'm sorry I wasted your time. Something has come up and I need to leave right now. Again, I'm sorry. Bye." And leave. Your safety is more important than being polite;
- Do not carry a large amount of cash with you, and leave immediately if the advertised product is not at the agreed place;
- If you are robbed, give the suspects the property they demand; your life is more valuable than your property."