A large spike in motorbike thefts in and around the Pietermaritzburg area has sparked outrage among the biking fraternity who believe a syndicate is at play.
Now city bikers say they will be patrolling certain areas to make their presence felt in the hopes of foiling future bike thefts.
The Midlands Biker Federation met with various law enforcement officials at the Allan Wilson Shellhole on Thursday night to discuss the increase of thefts of motorbikes in the Pietermaritzburg area, especially the areas served by Alexandra, Prestbury and Montrose police stations.
Midlands Biker Federation president Ben Trollip, welcomed around 40 bikers, clad in their leather club jackets as well as officials from the traffic department, various police stations around town, Crime Intelligence as well as Safe City.
Trollip said at the meeting that the theft of motorbikes in and around Pietermaritzburg is “getting out of hand”.
“Although I do not have official statistics, the information we have been receiving from Community Policing Forums, community watch groups and other bikers is that way more than 100 motorbikes have been stolen from the Pietermaritzburg area this year so far.
“In Prestbury, it has been particularly bad. We have had eight motorbikes stolen from the area in just August alone.
“It does not matter if your motorbike is in a garage, or chained, the people who are stealing the bikes are prepared.”
In one of the most recent thefts, a motorbike was stolen from a Napierville resident’s house.
Trollip said the biker’s dogs were poisoned and the thieves made off with his green Kawasaki Z1000.
Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said a case of theft was opened at Prestbury police station.
However, Mbele said that they could not confirm there was a syndicate in operation “since there is no increase in similar cases and there are no links to any other cases and this one at this stage”.
“Police are conducting patrols to prevent any criminal activities in these areas and arrest criminals.”
However, when the bikers suggested a syndicate was in operation in the area, the police officers in the room agreed.
“One hundred motorbikes stolen since the beginning of this year sounds like a syndicate to me,” called out one of the bikers.
Police officers from Townhill, Prestbury and Pietermaritzburg police stations all said that motorbike theft was an issue in their areas.
The police said the theft of the motorbikes and the transportation of the bikes to another location was usually done late at night. They said they would be upping their patrols in the areas and that they were working closely with Safe City and Crime Intelligence on the matter.
Police also said at the meeting that there had been around four cases of people being hijacked of their motorbikes in Johannesburg.
They said the biker would be surrounded by three or four armed men who demand the bike, the keys and the helmets and then disappear, leaving the biker stranded.
They added that they feared it was a trend that could catch on in KwaZulu-Natal.
It was decided that the bikers would patrol and report suspicious activity to police and that police and the traffic department would look more closely at motorbikes at road blocks and bikes being pushed around or ridden late at night. It was suggested that bike owners install a tracker system on their bikes and that more people install CCTV footage to help police in identifying criminals and the time frames in which they operate.
An official from Crime Intelligence said they were working on the thefts very closely and already had some leads, but could not divulge the information to the public.
High-end tracking devices more accurate
KwaZulu-Natal Netstar regional manager Deon O’Neil also addressed the Midlands Bikers Federation on Thursday night to speak about the different tracking devices that can be installed on motorbikes.
He said high-end devices give the most accurate information once a bike has been stolen.
The lower end products will pinpoint a stolen bike’s location to a general area whereas the higher end devices will track the bike’s movement once stolen “turn for turn”.