CT Central tops for theft out of vehicles

Long Street is still a crime hot spot.

Cape Town Central police station is still number one in the country for theft out of motor vehicle, and the police will now be looking at new strategies to curb this.

The concerns were raised at the community police forum (CPF) meeting, which took place at Cape Town Central police station on Thursday April 4.

At the meeting, police reported that theft out of motor vehicle was a priority crime throughout the Cape Town Central police precinct, followed by robbery.

Sergeant Glen Machelm, the manager for Sector 1, said the most problematic streets were Strand, Long, Darling and Riebeek streets.

“We had a number of events last week, so that affected our crime as there were many people in the city centre. We have made several arrests for robbery and possession of dangerous weapons.”

Anthony Rees, chairman of the Gardens Neighbourhood Watch, said there had also been an increase in car break-ins near Gardens centre during lunch time. He said people should take extra precaution to make sure their cars were locked and that nothing was left in the car when they parked it.

Constable Louis Texeira, sector manager for sector 3, which includes a portion of the city, Gardens and Bo-Kaap, said in most theft cases, there was no sign of forced entry, so he believed that car-jamming devices were being used to break into cars.

He said last week, a number of incidents took place along Kloof, Orange and De Waal streets.

Sergeant Machelm said robberies were rife in Keizersgracht, Canterbury and Sir Lowry streets.

He said commuters using the MyCiTi service in the east part of the city were targeted, and it was suspected that the perpetrators were living among the homeless in the open fields in District 6.

The head of visible policing, Colonel Andre Coetzee, said police would hold strategic work sessions to come up with new ideas on how to combat theft out of motor vehicles.

“We also want to have more imbizos so that we can connect with the community, and we will welcome any ideas or suggested interventions that will help us fight crime.”

He said over the past weekend, 31 incidents of theft out of motor vehicle was recorded, 25 of which were isolated incidents. Items that were stolen were mostly clothing and laptops.

“We have had a decrease, but it needs to go down much more.”

Cape Town CPF Chairperson Marc Truss said Cape Town Central would probably remain number 1 in the country for theft out of motor vehicle, and police would have to do a full analysis to determine crime patterns and what can be done to address the issue. He urged the community to be vigilant, to check if their cars are locked and not to leave any belongings in their vehicles.

Cape Town Central police’s head of violent crimes, Captain Wynand Swart said during the last financial year spanning from March 31 2018 until April 1 2019, more than 2000 thefts of motor vehicles case were reported. Only 77 arrests were made in connection with those cases, and only 193 cars were checked for fingerprints.

Captain Swart said Cape Town Central police has now extended its crime office so that there were more detectives on call 24/7.

“We want to make sure that every complainant is interviewed by a detective before he or she leaves the station, and that detectives are available to take them to the scene. This is to prevent people from opening false cases, and also to give us a better chance of catching the suspects.”

Neighbourhood watches and security authorities were warned not to send pictures of suspected criminals who were arrested, to victims of the crime. Captain Swart said while he knew the community meant well, when a picture of the criminal was sent to the victim, the case was being jeopardised.

“We have to respect the person’s right to innocence until proven guilty. Also, when a complainant is traumatised, they are not in a position to make a call if they are shown a picture of the suspect.

“The police will investigate and make provision for an ID parade when the time is right. If the photo was shown to the victim before the case goes to court, it is difficult to change a magistrate’s mind as to how the evidence was obtained, and the case will be kicked out.”

He said it was okay to send it to security authorities so that they could be alerted, however, showing the suspected criminal to the public was not a good idea.