Crime stats – a grim picture

Cape Town Central Police have expressed concern about the increase in violent crimes such as armed robbery in the area.

This follows the release of the latest police crime statistics by Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko on Friday September 2.

The statistics are for the period of April 1 2015 to March 31 this year. Armed robberies have risen in the precinct by seven percent, from 557 cases in the previous 2014/ 2015 reporting period to 600 in the 2015/2016 statistics.

On the positive side was the drop in the number of murders and attempted murders in the precinct.

Murder dropped from 12 cases to seven while attempted murder dropped from 13 to 12.

Common assaults dropped by 33 cases from 929 to 596.

But drug-related crime is up 15 percent from 2360 cases to 2712. Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition rose from 12 to 15 cases.

Commercial crime dropped from 1035 to 1015 cases while shoplifting was down from 1306 to 1188,

Cape Town Central police spokesman Captain Ezra October said the increase in violent crime was a concern. “It is a threat to the safety and security of members of the community. We are pleased with the decrease in house breaking residential because some house robberies sometimes emanate from a house breaking committed when complainants are at home,” he said.

He called for residents to be more aware, join their neighbourhood watches and report crime.

Nicola Jowell, chairwoman of the Cape Town Central CPF , said it was important to remember that each statistic carried its own burden of misery.

“There are some very positive results with regards to stats released and some concerning aspects too. It is easy to look at the stats as a collection of numbers and percentages, but we have to remember that each number represents an incident that has happened to a person and for that affected person crime is out of control. If one contemplates that 539 people had their homes broken into, 1531 people were robbed (with and without weapons). That is pretty alarming for those people.

“We appeal to our community to be informed and educated on what they can do to prevent becoming a victim of crime. If we keep our head in the sand and pretend it is not there, we are not doing much to protect ourselves and our property. Residents need to engage with their local security providers or neighbourhood watches.”

She added that crime stats were often obsolete by the time they came out given that much of the data was more than a year old. However they provided a useful benchmark to monitor police performance.

“We have a deep concern regarding the crime categories that rely on police action. We should be seeing an increase in the number of illegal firearms and ammunition seized. We certainly are seeing more incidents of weapons being used, so we are just needing to find these before a crime is committed.

“There is again a massive increase in the number of drug-related crimes, which is an indication of proactive policing. Our concern is that we are not targeting the high-level drug dealers whose arrests would have the greatest impact on the flow of drugs in the city.”

Ms Jowell said problems areas were the increases in assaults, robberies, thefts out of vehicles, house robberies and thefts of vehicles. She said the assaults were very hard to police as many happened in private homes, workplaces and in entertainment venues. A huge contributing factor was alcohol and this meant “we have to be vigilant in the policing of the liquor laws and the areas where nightclubs are concentrated”.

One of the major concerns for the Sea Point Police Station will be criminals targeting businesses and increase in commercial crime. There was an increase of almost 14 percent in commercial crime from 182 to 207 cases. Shoplifting cases shot up almost 60 percent from 82 cases to 130. There was also one cash-in-transit robbery.

Non-residential burglaries rose from 40 to 44 cases while residential ones dropped to 314 from 327. Thefts of motor vehicles and motorcycles increased from 150 to 157 and thefts out of motor vehicles increased from 1118 to 1177.

Sea Point police station commander Colonel Maehla Lento said they were pleased with the decrease in violent crimes and burglaries. However, he conceded that thefts out of motor vehicles remained a problem.

“Theft out of motor vehicles is a stubborn crime in our policing precinct based of the environmental design of our area. Criminals find it very easy to target motor vehicles parked on the street.

Sea Point CPF chairwoman Heather Tager said: “Shoplifting, which is not a policeable crime, increased by 58.5 percent which is attributable to the socio economic situation in the country. Commercial Crime showed an increase in line with the rest of the country which highlights the necessity for SAPS to adapt a new approach to fight this category.”

Ms Tager said she was concerned that less people were arrested for crimes like driving under the influence as it “highlights the need for increased visible stop and searches and intelligence-driven crime prevention operations”.

Camps Bay Police will be concerned about the slight increase in contact crimes in almost every category. The number of murder cases rose from zero to one. Common assaults rose from 12 to 21, as did common robbery, from nine to 13. Residential burglaries dropped from 114 to 108.

Thefts of motor vehicles and motorcycles increased from 24 to 30 cases while thefts out of motor vehicles increased from 84 to 103. Drug-related crimes also saw a slight increase from 127 to 138 cases.

Acting station commander Captain Tobias PJ Du Plessis said criminals sometimes saw Camps Bay as an easy target. Another problem crime in the area was theft out of motor vehicles. “It is coming up to the festive season now. I just want to appeal to residents to leave valuables at home and not in their car. We are aware the they are using remote-jamming devices so you have to manually check that your car is locked.”

He said that one thing he was happy about was the cooperation in the area between the police, the CPF and other roleplayers. “We have weekly meetings with the CPF and other security roleplayers in the area,” he said.