‘Don’t become a statistic’

Police say they are battling to curb an alarming increase in thefts from vehicles in Goodwood, but the lax attitude many people still seem to have about their security is their biggest stumbling block.

Thefts from vehicles in Goodwood shot up by more than 24%, from 496 to 617 cases, in the space of a year, according to the latest police crime stats, released last month (“Staff shortages hamper crime fighting efforts,” Northern News, September 19).
Goodwood police spokesman Captain Waynne Theunis said theft from vehicles remained a problem in the area.

“When we conduct patrols, we see a lot of cars parked in vulnerable and unlit areas, especially along Voortrekker Road, where there are entertainment venues,” he said.

“Many times we will stop our vehicles and knock on the doors of residents who have left their car windows open.

“Sometimes residents are stroppy with us for informing them about the possibility that their cars could be broken into. We urge them to be more vigilant,” he said.

An exasperated Captain Theunis said residents were still leaving laptops, cameras and other valuables in plain sight in their cars.

“We have an issue with this type of crime around shopping malls and along Voortrekker Road,” he said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Hennie Rademeyer echoed his concerns.

“There are a lot of cars parked on the roadside even though some people do have garages.

“We are also noticing that criminals are targeting cars during the day and at night,” he said.

Lieutenant-Colonel Rademeyer said it was no longer good enough locking valuables in the boot.

“The thieves will still break into the boot and steal the items of value. The best solution is not to leave anything in your car.

“We have found that residents are even leaving their cellphones and wallets in their cars. I want to plead, with them, not to become a statistic,” he said.

He said both thefts from vehicles and street robberies remained very high. “The hot spot areas are Voortrekker Road, Beaufort Street, Alice and Church streets as well as in the vicinity of Goodwood Mall,” he said.

Last month, Goodwood Community Police Forum (CPF) chairman John Ross said Goodwood police station was on the list of the 10 worst police stations in two categories: theft of and out of motor vehicles as well as shoplifting.

The high number of robberies and thefts from vehicles was a worry.

“Many of the crimes occur during the day as criminals mingle with crowds at malls and railway stations,” he said.

Goodwood police station commander Colonel Sibusiso Mntambo said while they had brought down home burglaries and vehicle thefts, business burglaries and thefts from vehicles had gone up.

“To combat this, we will increase our visibility operations. This is where, our neighbourhood watches are doing an excellent job. Awareness and education will be an ongoing exercise throughout this financial year,” he said.

Derek Bock, of the Voortrekker Road Corridor Improvement District (VRCID), said: “Stash it, don’t flash it is the motto motorists should live by when they park or drive in their vehicles.

“The VRCID urges motorists not to leave any valuables in their vehicles for all to see when they park, even if they only park for a couple of minutes.

“SAPS cannot be everywhere, and we as the public need to help them in this regard.”