Cost of theft at libraries nears R1 million mark

2019-11-12 06:00
Computers and other equipment was stolen from Retreat Library on Saturday 2 November.PHOTOS: City of Cape Town

Computers and other equipment was stolen from Retreat Library on Saturday 2 November.PHOTOS: City of Cape Town

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Following the break-in, vandalism and theft at Retreat Library on Saturday 2 November, the City of Cape Town is making provisions to provide library users with the materials they need.

This incident marks the 31st library vandalism incident in the city.

According to a statement by the City, there have been 58 insurance claims since January this year, totalling nearly R578 000, before the vandalism at Retreat Library.

“This incident will take our claims close to R1 million, which is unacceptable. This is money which could have been spent on much-needed resources or other critical community services,” Zahid Badroodien, Mayco member for community services and health, said in the statement.

Shanen Rossouw, the councillor for ward 110, said there is little that can be done to stop criminals from breaking into such facilities, but she will be implementing security measures to deter them.

“I’m going to install a camera to watch whatever is happening at the library and the baths (Retreat Swimming Pool) because they’re next to each other.”

She added: “There’s extra security there now, but it’s a vicious cycle that we don’t have control over. It’s really sad that it (the library) must be closed down because of vandalism – especially now when the matriculants are writing and they’re doing a reading programme and the after-school programme. They were doing a lot of good things there.”

The CCTV is planned to be installed before the end of the financial year (April next year).

In the interim, she encourages library users to make use of the libraries in Grassy Park, Ottery and Lotus River.

Rossouw said she understood that transportation costs could present a problem. To relieve this issue, she said: “We’re going to utilise the mobile libraries so we can assist the learners who want books, but, unfortunately, the computers are a no-go.”

According to Sgt Wesley Twigg, the spokesperson for Steenberg police, a case of housebreaking and theft was under investigation.

Twigg said on the library staff’s arrival at work on Monday 4 November, they found the exit door open. After investigation, the staff found that computer equipment to the value of R138 000 had been stolen.

The City statement added the burglary took place despite four layers of security at the library.

Since the previous burglary, the stone guards had been redone and additional strips of metal burglar bars were fitted over the stone guards. The thieves vandalised cupboards in an attempt to gain access.

“They tried to take the safe but must have realised it was too heavy. The thieves took four new mini SmartCape computers which had been locked in a cage, an additional four computers and a monitor, as well as a SmartCape monitor and printer,” the statement read.

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