Cape Town - Criminals are crawling to avoid security beams as unemployment drives them to break in to houses.
Yusuf Abramjee anti-crime activist said in the initial stage stages of lockdown there was a dramatic decrease in crime including house break-ins and home invasions.
“Many of these criminals are just trying their luck to break into homes and even estates, scaling walls and making their way in, you will find the criminals crawling to avoid the beams, that is why it is important for residents to take all security precautions and don’t think that you are living in an estate that you are safe, it’s a false sense of security. Most of these house break-ins are so-called opportunistic crimes. It becomes a house invasion when they take out a knife or firearm and hold you at gunpoint or knifepoint,” said Abramjee.
He added over the December and early January period there were fewer house-break-ins than previously but with people slowly going back to work there seem to be more house break-ins and specifically house invasions.
Rob Bisset chairperson for the Kraaifontain CPF said in his area some of the methods used for house break-ins included kicking in doors, burglar bars to gain entry which is every way possible.
In the greater Parow area, the CPF said they had not seen many house break-ins in the past month or so. However, the methods used in that area included breaking down doors and gaining access through large windows with or without burglar bars.
When asked how effective security beams were in the area they said where it is in place it has been effective, assuming it is armed.
The CPF said they believe all areas in their precinct are vulnerable to house break-ins from Parow Valley right up to Plattekloof and Burgundy Estate.
They added that the vulnerable areas are the Goodwood area close to Voortrekker Road corridor as well as close to the railway lines.
In Bothasig the CPF chairperson Dave Morley said break-ins are by window removal and crowbars used in the front door.
“Perpetrators are not bothered by beams, alarms and electric fences. In and out of premises within four minutes, no time for AR (armed response) to respond. Most vulnerable residents in Edgemead are backed up to Eskom reserve where the maintenance of fence and alien vegetation very seldom done. Bothasig, Richwood and new industrial site where most of the criminals cross over the N7,” said Morley.
They have asked that residential owners increase their perimeter lighting and suggested they clear overgrown vegetation from front and rear of the property. For residents who border the reserve it was suggested that they grow thorn bushes and cactus on the outside of their property and have high-power floods shining into the reserve.
In Durbanville, the method used was breaking windows or opening of windows said Michael Engelbrecht chairperson of Durbanville CPF.
“Alarm beams if set and properly installed is an effective early warning system and in combination with other security, methods adds to security layers which might discourage criminals. Vulnerable areas mostly adjacent to major access routes and green belts,” said Engelbrecht.
Engelbrecht said it was due to the Disaster Management Act regulations and curfew that crime had reduced.
Brackenfell’s CPF chairperson, Werner Victor, told the Weekend Argus methods used for house break-ins are crowbars, garden tools such as spades, pickaxe. “They are found in the owner/tenant’s property or breaking windows with rocks or other objects. Most of our community members are concerned about their safety at home, not everyone can afford high-end security measures at their properties,” said Victor.
Sean McCleland, chairperson of the Tygerberg Cluster Board Community Policing Forum (CPF) said, “perpetrators of crime within the Tygerberg Cluster identify the weak point of a dwelling in order to gain entry. Windows without burglar bars, doors that cannot lock or do not have effective safety gates installed, etc. The reason for this is in order for the perpetrator of the crime to gain entry and exit as quickly as possible,” said McCleland.
He added that alarms create an awareness to the perpetrator that the house is protected in addition to this when the alarm is triggered, there is instant awareness of what is taking place to your fellow neighbours and or to persons within the home.
“Which communities are worst affected or most vulnerable? I believe all communities are concerned and feel vulnerable, the more important question is which communities can afford to protect their homes and institute measures that will assist or deter perpetrators from gaining access to their homes. Certainly, the lower LSM groups are at greater risks, in addition to those who live closer to the crime hotspot areas like the Voortrekker Road corridor, or highways,” said McCleland.
Enver Maneveld, who oversees a watch group in Punts Estate, Heathfield, Elfindale and Windsor Park, said in those areas they had noticed criminals gaining entry through forcing garages open or breaking into garages.
Hanif Loonat, a crime activist in Lansdowne, said with the curfew there had been a reduction in house break-ins.