Robbers hit in minutes

A security firm has warned of a massive spike in burglaries and robberies at northern suburbs homes, while another says police crime stats are not in line with what they’re seeing on the ground, because homeowners aren’t reporting the crimes.

District Watch says there have been almost 40 break-ins in the last two months. They’ve urged residents in Monte Vista, Plattekloof, Plattekloof Glen, Welgelegen, Kleinbosch and Panorama to stay vigilant.

Parow police spokesman Captain Kevin Williams confirmed the crime trend, particularly residential burglaries in Plattekloof, Welgelegen and Panorama from June to August.

Break-ins in Welgelegen happened frequently on a Friday during the day anytime before 6pm and on Sundays from around 11pm, he said. In Panorama, they were most common on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, at about 7.30am.

The police don’t know who is committing the crimes, but the burglars often remove windows to break in.

The robbers come at night, hoping to catch people in their homes. Armed with crowbars, they smash their way through a front or back door.

“Additional manpower is being deployed with immediate effect to curb crime,” said Captain Williams.

“The residents of the affected areas are again requested to join community neighbourhood structures”

However Goodwood station commander Colonel Hansia Hansraj said there had only been one reported house robbery in Monte Vista from June to August, and no major increase in residential burglaries in the area.

Dirk van der Berg from Goodwood Armed Patrols believes the reason the cases reported by the police don’t reflect what is actually happening on the ground is because homeowners aren’t reporting the crimes.

He urges people to report the cases, whether they have insurance or not.

“All reported cases help to build a case in order to catch the perpetrators,” said Mr Van der Berg.

District Watch operations manager Mark Horstman is also worried about what he’s seeing on the ground. He says it’s unusual to have such a sharp increase in crime over such a short period.

“The sad part is that you need to spend money to be safe in your own home, but it needs to be done. The number-one priority is the concern for safety: you can replace a TV, but you cannot replace a life.”

Henry, 32, and his wife who is six months pregnant, were in the lounge of their Sluysken Street house getting ready to watch a movie at 8.30pm on Thursday August 11 when they heard banging sounds coming from the front door, then its glass panel shattered.

As Henry pushed the panic button, two men, one with a crowbar, bore down on him.

“I then shouted at my wife to hurry into the passage that leads to the bedroom, and I rushed into the passage as well,” said Henry. He doesn’t want us to publish his surname or identify his wife.

He shut the slam-lock gate in the passage, then hid with his wife in the bedroom, where he received a call from District Watch. He confirmed that a robbery was taking place.

“After a few loud bangs everything went quiet, so I knew they must have left,” said Henry.

“The next thing, District Watch was inside the house. When I got to the passage, I saw the safety gate damaged. However, the burglars were not able to break it open.”

The couple have lived in Monte Vista for almost two years. This is their first robbery. Henry said the intruders took a TV, laptop, cellphone and jacket, but he’s relieved they didn’t hurt him or his wife.

“Now that it has happened to us, we know everything can happen within a minute or two. We are scared that our house was this easy and this quick to break through with a crowbar. We just fear that they will injure us and our baby if we didn’t get to safety in time. These burglars know what they’re doing and know there is a time between when the alarm goes off and when response will be at the premise,” said the very concerned father-to-be.

Goodwood police spokesman Captain Waynne Theunis said break-ins usually happened during the day when residents were out, but the robberies happened at night when they were home.

Most times, he said, the intruders went through a front or rear door, and sometimes they took out a window.

“We are doing our level best to stabilise crime in Monte Vista,” said Captain Theunis, adding that police patrol the area daily and do random searches. The area is part of the greater sector 4 of Goodwood and has its own sector commander as well as a neighbourhood watch that works with two local security firms.