From the news desk

Warning of new smash and grab hotspot

Motorists traveling in the vicinity of Jakes Gerwel Drive and Voortrekker Road are urged to be extra cautious as authorities have seen a spike in ‘smash and grabs’ in the area.  The increase in the number of incidents at this intersection appears to be directly linked to efforts by authorities to clamp down on another hotspot further along Jakes Gerwel Drive in the vicinity of Langa. The short distance to the Maitland Cemetery means that the criminals have somewhere to run and hide.

According to the City of Cape Town, there has been an increase in smash-and-grab incidents at this intersection in recent months. Over a 12-month-period, 78 cases were registered at Goodwood SAPS – 24 of them in March 2017. The majority of the incidents occur on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and in particular between 18:00 and 00:00. The City is aware of two arrests in February 2017 for ‘smash-and-grab’ incidents at this location.

The link alongside contains a clip of one such incident in February:

The City is working closely with the South African Police Service to tackle this issue. This includes increased CCTV surveillance to detect suspects roaming the intersection; providing video footage to detectives for follow-up investigations and providing photographs of identified suspects to CCTV operators to help identify these persons during surveillance and responding before a crime is committed. In addition, Metro

Police also conduct ongoing public awareness drives at problematic intersections and warning signs have also been erected in some areas.

“We have a duty to inform members of the public about goings-on so that motorists passing through can take appropriate action if need be. Key to preventing smash-and-grab incidents is to ensure that all valuables are locked in the boot or kept out of sight. Despite widespread awareness campaigns, we still see far too many people driving with bags on passenger seats or cellphones in plain sight,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security JP Smith.

Other ‘smash-and-grab’ hotspots that have emerged in recent months include the intersections of 35th Avenue and Owen Road in Elsies River as well as 35th Avenue and Robert Sobukwe Road in Bishop Lavis. In one of the most recent incidents on Friday 12 May, a motorist was robbed of their cellphone by two young men at the last-mentioned intersection.

The motorist called the suspects and arranged to pay them for the return of the phone. Officers pounced on a 16-year-old while the exchange was taking place, but his accomplice fled. The motorist refused to lay charges and the officers let the suspect go.

“This is unfortunate. I understand many people’s unwillingness to engage with the criminal justice system because of the delays and lack of guarantee that anything will come of it should they press charges.

However, by letting criminals off the hook in this manner we are putting others at risk, who may fall prey to the same suspect in future. We will never adequately address this phenomenon without the assistance of the public, both in terms of pressing charges but also taking responsibility for their personal safety and belongings when driving,” said Smith. VOC

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