Car theft a concern in Pietermaritzburg

2017-12-20 06:01
PHOTO: sourcedThe theft of cars in the Pietermaritzburg CBD is a growing concern and motorists are advised to ensure their vehicle security features are functional.

PHOTO: sourcedThe theft of cars in the Pietermaritzburg CBD is a growing concern and motorists are advised to ensure their vehicle security features are functional.

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THE December holidays are the “season to be jolly” and a time for merriment, but this doesn’t ease the concern of many who believe the crime rate may increase.

Many fear murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, burglary, assault, car theft and hijacking will increase over this period.

According to the official crime statistics for April 2016 to March 2017 released by the minister of police a few months ago, carjackings increased by 215,4% in the Pietermaritzburg policing area and by 103.3% in the Plessislaer SAPS jurisdiction while the Mountain Rise SAPS saw a 48% increase in carjackings with 17.5% in the Alexandra Road areas.

However, Pietermaritzburg SAPS communications officer, Captain Khosi Khonjelwayo said according to research conducted over the past couple of years, carjacking is a minor occurrence during the December holiday period.

She urged drivers to remain vigilant when driving, especially late at night.

“Do not pick up strangers to give them a lift. Keep doors locked and windows closed as much as possible and when stopping at intersections, especially red traffic lights, check for suspicious persons approaching the vehicle.

“Do whatever is necessary to get away in order to avoid becoming a victim of a carjacking. Remember that property can always be replaced, but when a life is lost it is lost forever, so don’t defend your property or vehicle with your life.”

She said motor vehicle theft is a worrying issue in the Pietermaritzburg CBD.

The difference between a carjacking and car theft is that carjacking is when the driver is either removed from it by force or by a threat of force and the vehicle is then stolen.

Motor vehicle theft is when the empty vehicle is stolen.

“This crime [car theft] increased during the first part of December and already more vehicles have been stolen or attempted to be stolen, than during this period last year,” Khonjelwayo said.

She said during the past month the Victoria Road Shopping Centre has been a car-theft “hot spot”.

“These incidents occurred mainly after 6pm when people go to gym at the Virgin Active,” she said.

According to Khonjelwayo, VW Polos are the most targeted cars at the centre, with a number of Isuzu LDVs also stolen over the past few weeks. She said police have not determined why criminals target these specific vehicles.

“There were successes where the perpetrators attempted to steal vehicles, but were caught in the act,” she said.

She said car thieves use Allen keys or cut the wiring of the vehicle and attempt to start its engine by hot-wiring it.

“Vehicle owners must ensure that all security measures on their vehicle, for example, car-tracking, immobiliser, steering lock, etc., are utilised and the vehicle is properly locked when they get out of the vehicle.
“We are appealing to the public not to resist or retaliate if they are being robbed or hijacked. No property is worth your life,” Khonjelwayo said.

Mountain Rise SAPS spokesperson, Captain Gay Ebrahim advised drivers to always be alert when approaching their home or turning into their driveway.

“They must make sure they are not being followed or there are no strange vehicles or suspicious persons in their vicinity,” Ebrahim said.

She said in the Mountain Rise policing precinct theft and hijacking occurs sporadically making it difficult to identity “hot spots” or times when such is expected to happen.

“This varies as well with the type of vehicles that have been stolen. The community must be vigilant, aware and responsible. The Mountain Rise police are using maximum human and physical resources this festive season to increase high police visibility in its policing precinct,” she said.


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