Police say business break-ins in the city centre have decreased since 16 people were arrested, mostly for breaking into premises which were closed during lockdown.
During the first weekend of the national lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19, on Saturday March 28, three Central City Improvement District (CCID) safety officers spotted three suspects inside the alley next to Bob’s Bar in Constitution Street.
CCID night manager, TJ Jenkins, said they disappeared inside the premises, and the steel door was closed from the inside.
“Two of them then tried to escape by jumping from the top of the door but they were apprehended by CCID officers. The third suspect was thought to have remained inside the building. When I arrived on the scene, I requested assistance from SAPS, and informed the business owners of Harrington’s and Bob’s Bar respectively of the incident, so that we could search for the third suspect inside their premises. It was then discovered that alcohol to the value of R9 000 had been stolen from Bob’s Bar. The third suspect was never found. We believe he escaped over the rooftops and jumped down into Canterbury Street. The other suspects were arrested, and cases of theft opened against them.”
On Sunday March 29, seven people were arrested for breaking into Liny’s Baby Shop on the corner of Plein and Strand streets near Cape Town Station. Three people were also arrested for breaking into Revelas Fisheries in Long Street, with another two for a house break-in on the corner of Buitengracht and Wale streets.
Two suspects were also arrested for being in the possession of implements used to break into cars.
CCID safety and security manager, Mo Hendricks, says the crimes were sporadic and opportunistic, and occurred in various precincts throughout the CBD. “We will not tolerate criminal activity in the CBD during the lockdown while our nation is trying to combat the coronavirus crisis. Criminals need to know that they will be caught and brought to book: we have 300 Public Safety Officers working shifts 24/7, and they have been briefed and know what to look out for.”
Cape Town Central police spokesperson, Captain Ezra October, said they too believe the crimes were opportunistic because of the lockdown.” Criminals are aware that businesses are closed and that the city centre is quieter.”
He said various awareness programmes were run in the city centre leading up to the national lockdown, where business owners were given tips on how to secure their premises. He also said that there weren’t as many incidents reported after the arrests.
“We all need to work together and remind the public to stay vigilant.”
He said that police patrols have increased, especially in the evenings, and entry and exit points into town are being monitored by the police, law enforcement as well as the army due to lockdown regulations.
The Metro police’s Strategic Surveillance Unit (SSU) assisted the CCID and has active radio communication with their control centre and ground patrollers.
Meanwhile, the City’s CCTV system have recorded 56 incidents in the city centre from Monday March 23 to Monday April 2.
The City’s director for safety and security, Richard Bosman, said of the incidents, 28 were criminal offences, 14 were by-law transgressions, 11 were classed miscellaneous and three were traffic incidents. He said five arrests were made for breaking and entering as a result of CCTV detection.
He said the City had reconfigured deployments in support of SAPS, who are the primary agency responsible for the enforcement of lockdown regulations.
He said they had expected an increase in opportunistic crime during the lockdown, and urged the community to report suspicious activity.
Use the City’s 107 Public Emergency number for emergencies, by dialling 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline.