Residents and tourists have been encouraged to be more aware in Long Street as criminals become more skilful at pickpocketing. File picture
Cape Town - Residents and tourists have been encouraged to be more aware in Long Street as criminals become more skilful at pickpocketing.

According to the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) public safety officers’ statistics, five people have reported pickpocketing over the past two weeks.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith, said: “CCTV cameras in the CBD and Long Street also detected 760 incidents between January and March this year which included not only pickpocketing, but criminal offences, by-law offences, traffic-related matters and other miscellaneous matters.”

Manager of Safety and Security at the CCID Muneeb Hendricks said that thieves targeted drunk people, who offered no resistance or were unaware they were being pickpocketed.

“They prey on the negligence of people who keep phones and other valuables either in back pockets or backpacks that can be easily opened without them noticing,” explained Hendricks.

“In the Central Business District and specifically Long Street, criminals exploit the fact that it is a very busy area frequented by both locals and tourists. The type of crimes prevalent in this area include mugging, pickpocketing, robbery, ATM scams and theft out of motor vehicles,” said Smith.

Noloyiso Rwexana spokesperson for SAPS said, “There are several common robbery cases opened for investigation at Cape Town police station and in most of the cases, victims are being pickpocketed by suspects while they walk in Long Street and surrounding areas.

"The criminals normally target the victims by pretending to be fighting and pickpocket those who seem unaware and under the influence of alcohol.” 

Smith added that although the role of organized crime and the accompanying protection rackets is well documented, the situation is further aggravated due to the overcrowding of parolees in prisons. Many parolees are being released because of the overcrowding and don’t return to their communities then end up infiltrating street people and committing theft. 

Ward Councillor in the City Bowl, Dave Bryant said that pickpocketing is usually carried out by small groups in Long Street during early morning and late at night. “They often work together to create a distraction while items are pickpocketed,” said Bryant. 

“Individuals should remain vigilant late at night and early in the mornings and look after their valuables, specifically cell phones. We would ideally like to have increased numbers of security staff present during these times and a motivation for this has been made to the executive director of safety and security and SAPS,” said Bryant.

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