File photo: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – Criminals are taking advantage of the rotational load shedding and using the cover of darkness to commit a range of crimes.

Residents in Flamingo Vlei shared on social media how they were targeted when the power went out in the early hours this week.

Carla Greig told how they arrived at their Grade R class to find it trashed after a night of load shedding.

She said extensive damage was done to the building, including damage to the security gates and door frames.

The area’s Community Policing Forum (CPF) chairperson David Harris said: “Load shedding is a wonderful time for criminals to be out at play. 

"We urge residents to be on alert and to be aware, and to make sure their doors and windows are locked and closed.”

The Constantia Valley Watches Association said: “Criminals are well prepared for instituting crime in your area while the power is out.

“Over the last few weeks, we have experienced an increase in crime, and this could possibly be due to load shedding; or it could simply be the fluctuation in crime we generally see on the annual statistics graphs.”

Executive for High-Net-Worth Solutions at Old Mutual Insure Christelle Colman said: “The risk of increased opportunistic crime should be top-of-mind for South Africans, considering the load shedding schedule is made public for all - including criminals - to see.”

Colman said South Africans needed to be proactive in ensuring their safety and test alarm systems regularly.

“To ensure that electric fencing and gates still work during load shedding, reserve batteries should be installed and maintained. 

"While reserve batteries generally last for 6-8 hours when the power goes out, load shedding dramatically decreases a battery’s lifespan, so it is incredibly important that these are tested or replaced, especially if the policyholder is planning on going away over the holidays,” added Colman.

Cape Times