Spate of car thefts, break-ins at Newlands Forest parking area
Cape Town - Newlands Forest is teeming with criminals who are targeting vehicles in the parking lot of the seemingly tranquil forest.
The local Community Police Forum (CPF) has warned of a car-jammer that has been active around the parking area, which has resulted in thefts from motor vehicles.
Avid mountain user and Bishopscourt Village resident Jonathan Kinnear said they were running yesterday morning when one of his friends realised her vehicle had been broken into and her phone stolen.
“A month ago, the same thing happened to one of the guys in our group. This means that out of six people, two have now had a car-jamming incident in the last month where phones were stolen. Two years ago, on a Saturday morning, it was quite difficult to find parking, and you might end up having to park on the M3 highway, but you would find parking.
“However, now, since people are allowed to exercise, the number of people and cars over the weekend has increased drastically to the point that on the M3, on both sides, vehicles are parked probably for a kilometre,” he said.
Kinnear said the increase in the number of people using Newlands Forest has been accompanied by a huge rise in crime.
He said eight vehicles had been stolen in the Newlands Forest area in October. They had been parked either on the M3 or in the parking lot. In November, 11 vehicles had been stolen in the same area, he said.
A member of the Claremont/Newlands CPF, Jason De-Havilland, said he suspects car guards were involved in these incidents.
“This is a problem that needs to be monitored. They probably work in conjunction with people who commit these crimes and don’t do it themselves. On average, about four to five vehicles get stolen in a month, with more than 20 broken into,” he said.
Parkscape chairperson Nicky Schmidt said people often thought crime happened in Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) and forgot it also occurred on the borders of, and outside, the park.
“While there is sporadic crime which impacts hikers, vehicle theft has been a far greater issue recently. There has got to be joint crime prevention operations, whether inside the park, on the border or outside. You cannot deal with crime when it’s just one entity dealing with it.
“SANParks is not a crime-fighting operation but can do a certain amount of safety ranging, but the actual crime-fighting is down to law enforcement and police,” she said.
SANParks said it had been made aware of the ongoing theft of vehicles from the M3 and the parking area.
Acting spokesperson Reynold Thakhuli said ordinarily there was a self-employed car guard in the area, and although it was under the jurisdiction of the City, SANParks engaged in joint operations.
“TMNP is an open-access park, and some areas, like Newlands Forest, Silvermine Gate 2, require a car guard, and these people rely on donations from patrons.
“Visitors are requested to familiarise themselves with the information boards in the area and ensure that no valuables are left in their vehicles. Safety of all visitors is important, and we ask everyone to be vigilant,” he said.