When you think of “sliders” you probably think of delicious, tiny hamburgers, but for the past few years, the term has taken on a more sinister meaning as part of a disturbing trend among purse-snatchers.
The first reports about this criminal trend surfaced in 2013, and police have repeatedly warned motorists about this startling easy-to-pull of crime.
It goes down like this: You pull your car up to a gas station to fill the tank. While you’re preoccupied with pumping the gas or when you go into the store to pay for it, another car will pull up next to yours appearing to be at the other gas pump.
Then a person will crouch down low and “slide” over to open your unlocked door, helping themselves to your belongings. Purses are the most commonly stolen item.
As criminal justice professor and retired NYPD Detective Joe Giacalone told CBS News:
“Generally, women are the victims because of the pocketbook, because it’s an easy target. It has a strap, you can just reach in and grab it.”
He also noted that briefcases, laptop bags, and any loose devices like smartphones or tablets are also frequent targets. In the video below, you can watch a few examples of sliding caught on gas station surveillance cameras.
As is common with these “new crime trend” reports that make the rounds on local media, reporters at the time said these sliders were “on the rise.” That claim is a bit dubious, but is rooted in truth.
Viral fact-checking site Snopes.com rates the “slider” phenomenon as “true,” but there hasn’t been any large-scale study of the rate of this specific crime or if it is happening more or less frequently.
This is because “sliding” isn’t a special class of crime, but rather a tactic used by sneaky thieves.
So, while you don’t have to worry about dangerous “slider gangs” rolling into your town like bandits from the old west, there are simple things you can do to protect yourself should one of these opportunistic burglars set their sights on your vehicle.
At the gas station, be vigilant about your surroundings, and if someone gets too close to your vehicle, offer a quick-but-friendly greeting to let them know you see them. Police think drivers should go a step further. Remove your keys from the ignition and lock your door every time you stop for gas, West Chester Police Officer Jeff Newman advised WCPO News.
While this criminal tactic might be a new trend, it’s very easy to protect yourself from it with just a little discipline and awareness of your surroundings.
You can see more examples in this news report on “sliding.”