Five-minute theft spike

2016-01-11 11:00
(File: News24)

(File: News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - With the festive season now drawn to a close as most people return to work, security companies are tallying up the incident rate for December.

Pietermaritzburg’s private security fraternity believes there was a crime spike during the festive season with the northern suburbs becoming a big target area for thieves.

A number of private security companies with operations in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas warned residents to take extra precautions as 2016 progresses, after what they believe was a spike in crime during December and early January.

Most companies agreed the northern suburbs, which fall under the Mountain Rise policing precinct, had the highest overall incident rate.

ADT KZN district manager Ivan Govender said they noticed a definite increase in call-outs as residents “dropped their guard” during the December and January period.

ADT responded to mostly house break-ins, theft and theft out of motor vehicles.

Red Alert’s Rob Anderson also noted an increase in criminal activity.

Anderson said although the number of crimes against commercial properties remained fairly static year-on-year, residential incidents rose noticeably.

“The modus operandi we have noticed being used by home invaders is to exploit the element of surprise in the early hours of the morning when occupants are in deep sleep,” Anderson said.

Smash-and-grab style home invasions, which lasted literally minutes, were typical of this festive seasons crimes.

“Electronic items, flat screen TVs in particular, appear to have been consistently targeted by gangs of three or more ingenious criminals,” Anderson said.

Red Alert responded to about 80 domestic and commercial attempted break-ins and positive break-ins over the festive period.

“The northern suburbs appear to have been the hardest hit, with numerous homes being targeted from the surrounding forests, which makes it challenging to manage,” Anderson said.

“Cherry picking of homes without alarms, or homes where alarms were not armed, contributed to the majority of crimes that succeeded.”

Knight Security Solutions (KSS) business manager Debbie Preston, who was speaking for the Howick, Merrivale and Hilton areas, said there was an increase in crime, but it was expected.

Between December 17 and January 7, KSS responded to 33 incidents of positive break-ins and attempted burglaries at businesses and residential properties. Of these, 20 properties were broken into with items stolen, while the remainder were attempted burglaries.

An MI7 representative said housebreakings were also on the rise in the Alexandra Road policing precinct and Ilanga Security’s Logan Reddy said they responded to incidents in Oak Park.

Although the suburbs were hit by the crime wave, the CBD reportedly experienced a drop in criminal activity.

Safe City manager Lucas Holtzhausen said there was a stark decrease in robberies in the CBD.

He attributed this to the numerous crime prevention operations held by the police during December.

Loop Street CPF chairman Gerald Harry also said the area was “quiet”.

“We had a number of crime awareness campaigns that really made all the difference. There were not as many break-ins and robberies as we expected,” Harry said.

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  robberies  |  gang

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