Are you really safe at a petrol station?

For most consumers, a petrol station is a place where they can stop if they need to rest during a long trip or grab a quick bite to eat, not to mention to fill up their petrol tank.

Some also use a petrol station as a place to stop to pick up the daily essentials or if they feel that they are in danger. A petrol station is a convenient place to stop, but it is important for consumers to remain vigilant when doing so.

Petrol stations have given consumers a false sense of comfort and safety because it’s a familiar location that everybody can identify with. They are open 24/7 and you are guaranteed to always find people there.

However, it is important not to let your guard down when visiting one. There is a growing trend for petrol stations to be used as hotspots for hijacking or robberies. Consumers need to pay close attention to ensure that they are not being followed or to avoid being involved in a robbery while at the station.

These are some safety tips to take note of to help you stay safe at a petrol station:

  • Windows and passengers’ doors need to be closed at all times and your boot should also be locked. Leaving passenger doors unlocked is an invitation to steal goods lying loose or to hijack a car
  • Always have a backup plan in case of an emergency when you are sitting at a petrol station
  • Ensure you are aware of your surroundings at all times
  • Do not leave your doors unlocked when you go inside a convenience store no matter how safe it may seem
  • Act in a way that you would if you know you are being watched because you are probably being watched
  • Do not use your cellphone while filling up; this distracts you from being vigilant of your surroundings
  • Do not get out of your vehicle, leaving your keys in the ignition. Most new vehicles can open the petrol cap without the key, so then motorists are relaxed and leave their key in the ignition
  • If you approach a petrol station, rather drive off when something looks suspicious
  • Ideally, choose three preferred suppliers along your daily routes and make sure you change your routes regularly
  • Plan your routes carefully, so you don’t have to stop in high-risk areas to fill up
  • Remember that even after you have left the fuel station you should remain vigilant as you could still be a target. Criminals might still follow you home from the petrol station and rob you

“It is important for motorists to understand that most petrol stations are not equipped to manage risk and petrol attendants are unarmed,” said Ron Knott-Craig, director of operations at Tracker South Africa.

“Stopping to refuel your car is definitely not the time to stop and make calls or check your phone for messages and lose sight of your surroundings. If anything, it is the time to be very vigilant.”

Most, if not all, petrol stations have a single exit and entrance for entering the premises, which means that if something happens while you are inside, there is a limited way of getting out.

Criminals are most likely to strike when you least expect it and the petrol station is one place where consumers tend to drop their guard and relax especially after a long trip. It’s important that you are vigilant at all times whether it’s at night or during the day to ensure that you are aware of your surroundings and able to get away should the need arise.

Read: Tech Thursday: Why is your data disappearing?

Do you feel safe at a petrol station? Share your views with us

Staff Reporter

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