Seaboard’s quarterly crime statistics a mixed bag

Camps Bay is a hunting ground for cellphones.

The quarterly crime stats, released last month reflect an increase of just more than 11% in contact crimes in the Camps Bay policing precinct while sexual offences showed a decrease of more than 55% in the Sea Point policing precinct.

The crime statistics, released on Friday February 18, are for the third quarter of the last reporting period – October to December 2021.

In Camps Bay SAPS’ policing precinct, contact crimes saw an 11.8% increase, with seven instances of robbery with aggravating circumstances compared to two in the same quarter of the previous year. This reads as an increase of 250% in robbery in particular. There were six cases of common assault in 2021 compared to seven previously, translating to a drop of 14.3%.

Commenting on the statistics for the Atlantic Seaboard, however, Ward 54 councillor Nicola Jowell, warned that it was not practical to compare stats to the same quarter of 2020, when lockdown was in place and movement restricted.

“The crime category which to me is of the most concern would be contact crimes and property-related crimes,” she said.

“Contact crimes, specifically robberies and assaults have shown an increase. While the actual numbers are still low (this is reported crime only) the year-on-year change shows an increase which needs to be addressed,” Ms Jowell said.

“But we have to not lose sight of the fact that every single one of these incidents is an incident too many, and a person who’s life has been negatively impacted by crime. When it comes to contact crime that impact can be profound and lasting.”

Robbery at residential premises went up by 500% – six incidents in last year compared to one in 2020, while burglaries at residential places registered 18 for each year. Theft out of or from motor vehicles dropped from 20 incidents to 14, while theft of motor vehicles and motorcycles went up by 100% – six in 2021 compared to three in 2020.

Commercial crime and shoplifting decreased by 41.2% and 66.7% respectively.

“The majority of crime is theft on the beach, people often leave their cellphones, especially iPhones, on the beach unattended,” said Camps Bay police station commander Captain Keith Chandler.

“However, we must not be blinded to the reality that there are fraudulent cases for insurance fraud. Insurance companies have not paid out for theft cases for the past two years and there was a huge boom of cellphone theft in recent months, especially over the festive season.

“Nevertheless there is a criminal element targeting phones and people are often too relaxed when they come to the beach. So I would caution beach goers to not bring their devices to the beach.”

Drug-related crime went up by 7.7% while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs decreased by 57.1%. Both fall under the category of crime detected as a result of police action.

Parked cars are easy targets for break-ins, don’t leave your valuables in plain sight.

Captain Chandler said that due to resignations, promotions and deaths, the Camps Bay station was operating with only half its staff compliment.

“The authorities are well aware of this challenge,” he said.

In the Sea Point policing precinct, common robbery and robbery with aggravating circumstances went up by 61.5% and 69.2% respectively. Sexual offences decreased by 55.6%. Robbery at residential premises went up by 150%, that is, five incidents were reported last year as opposed to only two in 2020.

Malicious damage to property went up by 158%, with 31 incidents compared to 12.

In a statement published on its website, the Sea Point Community Police Forum’s chairperson, Heather Tager, said residents should report crimes as she doesn’t believe the statistics were a true reflection of the levels of criminal activity.

“Statistics only relate to reported incidents for which cases have been opened. As with any set of statistics various interpretations can be made,” she said.

“My main concern is the reported rise in assaults and robberies. While we know some of those will be between people who know each other, there are people who have become a victim while out and about in their neighbourhoods.

“I would urge the relevant authorities to focus on these concerns with maybe, foot patrols, in hot spot areas and peak times to show visibility and help residents feel safe and deter criminal activity.

“But at the same time we need to remain proportionate – such incidents are still very rare and the streets of Sea Point are comparatively safe – but we must not be complacent.”

There were 353 drug-related crimes compared to 242 the previous year. As these fall under the category of crime detected as a result of police action, Ms Tager thanked SAPS for their contribution – but urged them to become more visible.

“These are challenging times for law-enforcement officials. We are well aware that staffing levels in most disciplines are well below what they should be.

“This puts pressure on those who are employed, but it is imperative on the management team to ensure that they enthuse their staff to provide a first-class service for local residents even if the conditions are less than ideal,” Ms Tager said.

Atlantic Sun approached Sea Point SAPS for comment, but by the time this story was published, they had not yet responded.

In Sea Point robberies showed an increase, while sexual offences took a dip.