Crime cases in the city centre dropped by 56.5% during the national lockdown.
This is according to cases recorded by the Central City Improvement District’s (CCID’s) safety and security department.
CCID safety and security manager Muneeb Hendricks, said the number of incidents across the CCID’s crime categories fell from 1 624 cases from March 2019 to March 2020 to only 705 cases from March 2020 to March 2021.
The CCID’s report shows that theft dropped by 59%; theft out of motor vehicle dropped by 72%, robberies by 67% and common robberies decreased by 70%.
ATM fraud had also decreased by a significant 90.5%, while drug arrests increased by 3%, and arrests of people in possession of stolen goods increased by 45%.
Fighting in public dropped by 56%.
He said the reduction in crime is due to the implementation of a preventative deployment strategy during lockdown, as well as collaboration with its primary partners, SAPS and City of Cape Town Law Enforcement.
At any given time, the CCID has over 300 Public Safety Officers on patrol in the CBD.
CCID CEO Tasso Evangelinos said the CCID remained fully operational from day one of the nationwide lockdown.
“Our teams were on the ground, providing visible policing of the central city. We were successful because we adapted our strategies to meet the new demands in the CBD.”
Mr Hendricks said the initial focus at the start of the lockdown in March 2020 was to protect properties, people and possessions in the Cape Town CBD.
In the first three days of the hard lockdown, there were seven attempted break-ins, and the team apprehended all 14 suspects. This sent a strong message and break-in attempts went down to zero during this period.
Mr Hendricks said as the lockdown restrictions gradually lifted, the CCID shifted focus to entertainment areas – specifically restaurants and shops, as well as provided additional services to make people feel safe, such as residential checks, escorts for people navigating the less busy streets of the CBD, and security for business owners at opening and closing times. “We wanted to create an extra feeling of safety so people could come and open up the economy again.”
Mr Hendricks said the biggest crime category during level one lockdown was antisocial behaviour, and once the lockdown eased, and more people came back to town, the focus went back to contact crimes, theft out of vehicles and common robbery – which is mostly pickpocketing.”
The safety department also worked closely with the CCID’s communication department to run awareness campaigns to enlist the public in crime-prevention efforts.
Additionally, the team worked with local business partners to band together to rejuvenate key areas, such as Long Street.
Mr Evangelinos said working together with the community and security stakeholders has worked wonders in the Cape Town CBD.
While the CCID’s report does not reflect Cape Town Central police’s crime statistics, the visible police commander at the station, Colonel Andre Coetzee, confirmed that crime in all categories had decreased during the lockdown
He said during lockdown, police had focused on strict compliance of the Disaster Management Act. However, when the restrictions eased, and people started coming back to the CBD, it created more opportunity for criminal activity.
He said the biggest concern for SAPS at the moment was robbery and theft out of motor vehicle around the transport hubs. “Police are more visible in and around hotspot areas, and focusing on proactive policing to keep crime down.”