File picture: John Robinson/AP
Pretoria - Residents should be wary this festive season as criminals were ready to pounce on their bonuses, stokvel savings and investments.

Sunnyside police spokesperson Captain Daniel Mavimbela said it was time people heeded police advice and avoided falling victim to the same criminal activities used every festive season.

“Past festive seasons were characterised by reports of cash in excess of R100 000 being robbed from stokvel members.

“Instead of making huge cash withdrawals from the banks, we urge stokvel treasurers to transfer money into an individual stokvel member’s personal bank account,” he said.

“Reports further suggest that more burglaries are likely to happen during the month of December and early in January because more residences are left unattended. The Know Your Neighbour and Neighbourhood Watch Crime Prevention campaigns were initiated to curb such burglaries.”

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He said that as the festive season approached, two suspects had already appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court for motor vehicle theft; one had been found with a spare wheel stolen from a vehicle.

“In spite of our efforts thus far, our greatest challenge still remains theft out of motor vehicles. One or two of every three victims whose vehicles were broken into reported an electronic gadget missing.

“Our people should not neglect these items simply because they have them insured. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that in the long run, too many insurance claims may lead to higher premiums.”

Mavimbela said he hated sounding like a scratched CD, but motorists had to drive with their valuables concealed and to put them away where they could not be seen.

He said false prophets were another syndicate whose criminal activities were not easy to detect because they reduced their victims to willing participants through the usage of false prophecies and promises of instant exorbitant returns from cash investments.

Also read: Stokvel members told to make cash work for them

“Their modus operandi includes smearing a substance on the arm of a potential victim. Shortly thereafter, another person will appear on the scene and inform the potential victim they have also been smeared with a substance.

“Somehow a fake police officer and a prophet might appear, which normally leads the victim to get a false sense of security, especially since there is a ‘police officer’ around. The victim would not realise that he or she was surrounded by con artists.”

He said subsequently the victims handed over their earnings to the “prophet” for it to be blessed and doubled, only to later discover that the supposedly doubled cash was just rolls of papers wrapped with one real note.

Pretoria News