Criminals take advantage of the city’s winter chill

2016-07-27 13:07
SA police. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

SA police. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - Criminals appear to be using the chilly winter weather to capitalise, with residents bearing the brunt as break-in cases escalate in some Pietermaritzburg suburbs.

Both Pietermaritzburg’s police clusters have reported increases in housebreaking and robbery incidents within the past two weeks, and have warned residents to be extra vigilant as blue light patrols flood the streets to prevent more attacks.

With police attempting to tighten their grip on the situation, The Witness can reveal a senior Pietermaritzburg police officer, who asked not to be named, also fell victim to burglars in the early hours of yesterday morning.

It is believed the officer, who holds an esteemed management position in the city, woke up yesterday to find her Hayfields home had been ransacked.

It is believed the burglars bypassed the home’s alarm system and entered through a sliding door before quietly moving through the house while the family were asleep.

The burglars made off with electronic appliances and groceries. However, the family were not harassed in any way.

Captain Gay Ebrahim, communications officer for the uMgungundlovu North cluster, said police have identified hot spots based on cases reported and are mobilising officers in these areas to curb the rate of home invasions.

Ebrahim identified the Orient Heights and Copesville areas as current hot spots for home invasions.

She said the incidents were isolated and seemed to be the work of opportunistic criminals rather than criminal syndicates.

Similarly, uMgungundlovu South spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said the cluster management had noted a “slight” increase in armed robberies over the last week, while housebreakings persist.

Ngobese pinpointed Hayfields and Mkondeni as their current hot spots.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, Ebrahim said a possible reason for the spike in home invasions and petty thefts was the sun setting earlier in winter, with many people walking home in the dark after work falling victim to robbers on the streets.

She said residents were also getting into bed earlier in the cold weather and were fast asleep earlier than usual, giving criminals the advantage.

However, the police have hit back, holding various crime awareness campaigns in Copesville and increasing police visibility in Orient Heights.

“We are also regularly visiting secondhand dealers like pawn shops and scrapyards in attempts to recover stolen items. We urge residents to be extra vigilant and security conscious,” Ebrahim said.

“Residents should also keep a record of all the serial numbers of items in their homes, which increases the likelihood of stolen items being returned to them once found.”

Ngobese said homeowners should be wary of strange vehicles or persons walking in their neighbourhoods at night, and urged residents to report all incidents so police could allocate their resources effectively in the fight against crime.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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