UK warns soccer fans of crime threat
The alert for “travelling football fans” is featured on the government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.
Topping the list is a warning about ATM fraud, which the British government says is “widely reported in South Africa”.
The advisory warns about micro-cameras installed to record customers typing in their PIN codes, as reported in the Cape Argus yesterday, and even suggests that fans could be approached by criminals disguised as bank officials in “bank colours”, to help, but out to fleece them.
Soccer fans are advised to have their cards ready to insert into ATMs, warning that thieves could strike if they open their wallets and expose their valuables.
Once cash is drawn, Brits are advised not to count their cash, but to leave ATMs quickly.
On the accommodation side, British fans are warned not to book online and then submit their bank details.
On the road, fans are warned about being ambushed.
“We’ve heard reports of people who have stopped to help an apparently distressed motorist, and then find that they have been conned by carjackers. It is better to report the incident to the police rather than stop your car and try to help,” the website said.
Still on the road, the government warns its citizens that “it’s a long way” between South African cities.
“Make sure you plan your journeys between stadiums carefully as they are spread far apart. The distance between Cape Town and Johannesburg is 880 miles, (1 400km) which is the same distance as London to Warsaw and would take 17 hours’ to drive.”
To help its citizens, the British government created a map with information on how to reach each stadium – “including distances to the next one in kilometres so you can start planning to follow England to victory”.
Cape Town Tourism head Mariette du Toit-Helmbold praised the British government for putting out sound safety tips, but warned against “sensationalism”.
“Any warning that is put out needs to be based on fact. If they are good, standard safety tips, like when you got to any destination, then fine.
“But we’ve often seen that they are skewed towards being sensationalist, and can do a lot of harm to our destination,” she said.
Published on the web by Cape Argus on May 20, 2010.