Police warn women drivers to be on guard after knifepoint robberies

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POLICE have urged lone women drivers in Sheffield to be vigilant and take basic safety precautions after a crazed junkie desperate for drugs robbed two female motorists at knifepoint in the city centre.

Officers have issued a series of safety tips after former charity worker David Da Costa, 30, was sent to prison for seven years for the terrifying robberies.

The dad-of-two hijacked two women outside the NCP car park on Sidney Street while brandishing a knife, and demanded cash.

Eamonn Larkin, crime reduction officer for South Yorkshire Police, said incidents of its kind were rare in Sheffield, but said women could avoid becoming victims of criminals like Da Costa by following some simple safety tips.

He said: “It’s a rare occurrence we’ve had here and that’s exactly why it’s made the news, but much of this is about thinking about your own safety and preventing it happening.”

Mr Larkin said: “The most important piece of advice I would give to any driver - male or female - is to always lock your car doors when you get in.

“As a police officer I never went to any incidents where people had become trapped inside their vehicles because their doors were locked, but I dealt with many cases where women sitting at traffic lights had their bags stolen from the passenger seat or the footwell.

“Locking your car door should be as natural as putting your seatbelt on. Keep your door locked and think about where you are parking.”

Mr Larkin also urged female motorists to park as closely as possible to the entrance of a car park; reverse into parking spaces so they can make a quick getaway if needed and can’t be approached from behind; carry a personal attack alarm; in multi-storey car parks walk down the ramps rather than using dimly lit stairwells and lifts; park near CCTV cameras; and use staffed car parks where possible.

He added: “If you park near the entrance you are safer when you return as there will be cars coming and going.”