This type of criminal activity is on the rise again in South Africa

A tactical armed reaction and guarding company located primarily in the north of Johannesburg has pointed to a spike in gate motor thefts in one of the suburbs under its jurisdiction.

The security firm, which patrols the Fourways neighbourhood primarily, said that it had received reports of as many as 15 cases of theft in the past two weeks and up to three per day in a single neighbourhood.

Theft of batteries from motorised gates is not a new trend in the province, with an increase in cases being reported in areas all across the province over last year, at a time when many people were confined to their homes due to lockdown.

The popularity of the crime could be related to the ease at which it can be carried out, often in less than a minute as security footage has shown – with perpetrators reaching in, removing the covers on unsecured motors, taking the battery and simply walking away.

According to Fidelity ADT, a thriving black market is to blame for the province’s current and ongoing gate motor thefts.  “Stolen gate motors are either stripped down, and its various components – batteries, gearboxes, etc. – sold individually or they are sold as complete units to unsuspecting homeowners by these ‘access automation bandits’ as they are often referred to,” it said.

The security company warned that if the gate motor isn’t properly secured, criminals can switch the gate to manual and access your property. There is also a worrying trend of suspects lifting the gates off the rails to gain entry, accessing the property and stealing the gate motors.

In August, police minister Bheki Cele pointed to a steep increase in the Quarterly Crime Statistics, resulting from the normalisation of statistics compared to the same reporting period last year when the country was in lockdown.

Quarterly crime statistics reflected double-digit increases in crimes between April and the end of June in South Africa.

The statistics reflect the following increases in the different crime categories:

  • 60.6% increase in contact crimes such as murder, attempted murder, sexual offences and all categories of assault when compared to the same period last year.
  • There were 5,760 murders during the first quarter of the year – an increase of 66.2%.
  • 1,385 murders occurred at the home of the victim or of the perpetrator.
  • There were 1,340 (33.4%) more residential robberies from April to June 2020 than the corresponding period in the previous financial year.
  • 92% increase in trio crimes like house robberies, business robberies and hijackings.
  • Burglary at residential premises increased 6.3%

Fidelity ADT provided some useful tips for safeguarding your gate motor against theft and your property against a home invasion:

  • Ensure that your gate motor is secured in a steel casing or bracket, which is locked at all times. Suspects often place their hands through the gate if your gate motor is unsecured and installed right next to a “palisade-type” gate”. They are then able to switch the gate to manual and access your property.
  • Make use of a good quality lock to secure the motor’s theft-resistant cage. Preferably opt for an insurance-rated padlock.
  • Install adequate anti-lift brackets and weld a piece of a bar onto the gate rack to prevent thieves from bending the rack upwards.
  • Combine mechanical anti-theft systems, such as traditional theft-resistant cages, with electronic notification devices, such as sound bombs and GSM units, which can send notifications to users when the device’s inputs are triggered.

Read: South Africa’s latest crime stats – everything you need to know

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This type of criminal activity is on the rise again in South Africa