The City of Cape Town has appealed to motorists to be on the lookout for opportunistic criminals when they’re on the road.
In a statement released on Tuesday (11 December) the city said that there were four intersections notorious for smash-and-grab crimes and theft out of motor vehicles.
It added that it was currently mulling possible solutions with other role players like SAPS, but motorists too are urged to keep their wits about them.
Jakes Gerwel Drive has the dubious distinction of being a known hotspot for smash-and-grab crimes.
Statistics between May and October 2018 show that the number of incidents has remained static compared to the same period in 2015.
Of the 143 smash-and-grab incidents or attempts recorded by CCTV operators, nearly 90% (126) occurred between the N2 off-ramp to Jakes Gerwel Drive and Jakkalsvlei Avenue into Bonteheuwel. There were four arrests during the period in review.
In Bishop Lavis, the intersection of Robert Sobukwe Road and 35th Avenue has also become known for theft out of motor vehicles.
The modus operandi has criminals targeting motorists whose windows are open or doors are unlocked and reaching into the vehicles to grab cellphones and other valuables within reach.
There was a total of 120 incidents recorded between May and October 2018.
“What’s interesting is that the number of incidents in Bishop Lavis dropped to zero in October after sustained efforts between the two local police stations and the city,” said the mayoral committee member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.
“Known perpetrators were profiled and warned by the SAPS teams and this strategy seems to have paid off. The City also has surveillance cameras in the area.
“It, therefore, makes sense to have a sustained presence in an area, but we do not have the resources to do that. I would hazard a guess and say the same applies to SAPS,” he said.
“With all of the competing priorities for policing, it is impossible to be everywhere and that is why the public’s role in this is so crucial.”
What to watch out for
Smith further urged to be mindful irrespective of where they find themselves.
While the roads in question are problematic, the reality is that criminals will strike anywhere that presents an easy getaway, he said.
“The informal settlement along Jakes Gerwel Drive is a prime example. It means that criminals can disappear very quickly; and there is high pedestrian footfall, so motorists don’t always see the attack coming. It might be the case that an engineering solution like fencing is the best way to curb these types of incidents, although that would be extremely costly,” he said.
“Another concern is the behaviour of motorists.
“During a recent awareness drive, a motorist indicated that she had been a two-time victim of a smash-and-grab, yet she was still driving with her handbag on the passenger seat. Smash-and-grab crimes are opportunistic in nature, so I once again urge motorists to ensure that they keep their valuables out of sight in the boot of their vehicle.
“They should also pay attention to their surroundings at all times,” said Smith.
Below he outlined a number of tips to reduce the risk of a smash-and-grab incident include:
- Keep valuables out of sight in the boot or underneath the seat;
- Lock all your doors, and close all windows;
- When approaching a red traffic light at night, slow down so that you will only reach the crossing when the light has already turned green. Be cautious, be vigilant, and know your surroundings;
- Be wary of people loitering about at traffic lights or intersections. They may be innocent, but perpetrators usually mix with them while waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
- Be alert, and do not take pamphlets from or get into discussions with vendors at intersections;
- Smash-and-grab incidents can be reported to the nearest police station or the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre.