CBD vehicle crime wave

2015-08-13 09:59
Police cars outside the clothing shop that was burgled during load-shedding on Wednesday night.

Police cars outside the clothing shop that was burgled during load-shedding on Wednesday night. (Supplied)

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OPPORTUNISTIC thieves are plaguing city motorists, with vehicle break-ins and remote jamming now at the highest level ever seen in the CBD.

The Witness was leaked police ­documents which show that there have been more than 60 thefts out of motor vehicles reported specifically in Pietermaritzburg’s CBD area between July and August 6.

With thieves using remote jamming devices or simply bashing through ­windows, more than half a million rands worth of items have been reported stolen from vehicles in just over a month.

Police have now warned motorists to be extra vigilant and not leave valuables in plain sight and make sure the doors and boot of their vehicles are locked ­before leaving.

The most common items being stolen are mobile devices like cellphones, tablets and laptops, and cash.

Tradesman who keep their tools in the back of their bakkies have also been ­identified as prime targets, with ­increasing thefts of toolboxes left in plain sight or under tonneau covers.

According to a police source, thefts from motor vehicles in the CBD are “at an all-time high”, with more cases ­reported this year than previously.

Using information from the leaked documents, The Witness can reveal that thefts occur mostly in the CBD in a ­targeted area flanked by Victoria Street, West Street, Masukwana (East) Street and Prince Alfred Street.

About 50 thefts from parked motor vehicles were reported from this vicinity.

Most of the thefts occurred in Langa­libalele (Longmarket) Street, Church Street, Jabu Ndlovu (Loop) Street and Victoria Street, which have been identified as criminal hot spots by the police.

Almost half of the incidents reported are suspected to be conducted using remote ­jamming devices, with perpetrators targeting the vehicles minutes after the owner has parked.

For instance, according to one report made on July 15, the complainant, a ­lieutenant from the Msinga police ­station, parked a state-owned vehicle in Church Street and left the vehicle, ­locking the doors using his remote as he walked away.

When the officer returned a few ­minutes later, he noticed the driver’s seat was pushed forward and a state laptop placed behind the seat was missing. Since there was no forced entry, police suspect the remote was jammed.

Shopping centres have also been ­identified as areas targeted by thieves, with incidents reported at the Victoria Shopping Centre, Parklane Spar and the Liberty Midlands Mall.

Most of the cases at shopping areas came from the Liberty Midlands Mall with five in total, four of which were ­suspected to be remote jamming and one where the thieves broke into the car through the window.

Cars were also broken into overnight on more than a dozen occasions, ­especially in the Manor area where five incidents in flats’ parking lots were reported over the same weekend at the beginning of July.

Pietermaritzburg police spokes­person Mthokozisi Ngobese said theft from motor vehicles is an “increasing problem” and many items targeted are easily concealed and “highly disposable” due to their “sought-after nature”.

“This has opened a lucrative market for thieves. We warn the public to be ­extra vigilant,” Ngobese said.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese offered these precautionary tips for motorists:

• Make sure your cars are locked and check the doors before you leave your vehicle.

• Make use of your garages if you have one at your property or install smash-and-grab protection and an adequate alarm system.

• Park in well-lit areas at night.

• Keep doors locked even when ­driving.

• Remove all valuables from plain sight.

• Always report the theft to the ­police promptly

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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