House breaking warning

Colonel Maehla Lento.

Sea Point police have warned residents to be vigilant after an increase in house breaking in the area in the past three months.

Police also said that they had revised their plans and are working overtime to deal with the trend.

That included increasing resources when the suspects were operating in the area.

This comes after a 38-year-old man appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday September 5 in a case that appears to be linked to several house breaking incidents in the area.

Colonel Maehla Lento, station commander of the Sea Point police station, told the Atlantic Sun that there had been an increase during June, July and August.

He also said that house breaking can sometimes turn into house robberies when contact is made with the occupants of the house.

“There is no specific trend. They will go to the stand-alone houses, to the block of flats and even sometimes the business places. It is not like there is a specific target,” he said.

On the arrest and court appearance last week, Colonel Lento said it was likely that the accused was linked to some other cases in the area.

“We have a trend of two or three groups (operating in the area). There are similar cases across the whole metropole but we are still far better than some other places.”

He said that after these incidents the police have revised their plans to deal with the trend. “We have since stepped up our operations. We have now analysed our crime pattern. We are increasing our resources during the time frames that these guys are operating. We hope to have some successes very soon.”

Colonel Lento added that another arrest was made last week Wednesday. “We want to plead with the community to be aware of the environment and to make sure that their properties are looked after. There is a trend in winter because there is less movement at this time. People also tend to sleep early. It’s a good time for them (criminals) because there is less movement.”

He said the groups operating in the area do not appear to be linked to the infamous crowbar gangs that are operating in other areas across Cape Town. “In most cases they will go to the houses where the windows are already slightly open or they will force a door open. We’ve not had any incidents where they have produced guns.”

Colonel Lento said that the police would continue to work with the community police forum, the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement and various other stakeholders on the matter. “We have discussed this issue with all our counterparts and are pulling resources together,” added Colonel Lento.

He encouraged residents to report any incidents to SAPS so that they can react swiftly. “They must have that relationship and look after one another.”

Colonel Lento said there had generally been a decrease in crimes in the area, especially theft out of motor vehicles which had been a problem in the past. He also warned people to be careful as street robberies and ATM fraud also generally increased as Cape Town approaches the festive season and tourists flock to the area.

Heather Tager, chairperson of the Sea Point Community Police Forum, agreed that there had been an increase in the past three months. “They seem to be targeting the early hours of the morning. It is important to get to know your neighbours, look who is moving and possibly having work done at their premises.”

Ms Tager also encouraged residents to report suspicious activity to SAPS. “Unfortunately in this day and age one must keep windows closed and doors locked. Make sure that the alarm is activated when leaving your premises and when going to bed. All incidents must be reported to the police no matter how petty it seems to be,” Ms Tager added.

Ms Tager said the police and other law enforcement agencies, private security companies and neighbourhood watches continue to actively plan interventions which are always based on crime trends. “That is why it is important to report all incidents. The Sea Point City Improvement District together with the LPR camera system fills in the gaps and plays an important supporting role,” she said.

When asked about other crime trends that were of concern in the area, Ms Tager said that remote control jamming was still an issue. “The key here is to check your vehicle manually once locking. Place items in the boot before arriving at your destination, as the perpetrator is watching while you put items in the boot and then jam the mechanism. One must remember that most insurance companies will not pay unless there is proof that a theft has occurred.”

Wayne Dyason, spokesperso for the City’s law enforcement, said their units have regular joint operations with SAPS and meet at least five times a month. He also added that partnerships between law enforcement, community-based organisations and SAPS were crucial.

Mr Dyason added that the benefits of partnerships were twofold: “They assist in combating crime and allow for a joint operational approach with the various law enforcement agencies such as SAPS, Metro police, law enforcement and the various security units. This strategy has proven to be more beneficial in fighting crime together.

“An integrated approach allows for more effective crime-fighting measures and all parties are able to share crucial information.Integration of resources allows for the exercising of powers that makes for greater operational success and the effective building of external stakeholder relationships.”