The buck stops here

Brackenfell SAPS had information desks at various shopping malls last week as part of their bid to increase awareness about crime over the festive period. Nicolene Kuter is pictured with Warrant Officer Henry Waterson centre, and Constable Rouan Scheepers on Friday, December 9 at Fairbridge Mall

Police, neighbourhood watch organisations and other law enforcement agencies will step up patrols to curb the anticipated spike in crime during the festive season.

Criminals take advantage of this time of year when most let down their guard to relax during the “silly season”.

According to John Smidt, a member of the neighbourhood watch in Belmont Park, Kraaifontein, patrols will be beefed up in all six of the suburb’s neighbourhood watch sectors.

“We will be on full alert in Kraaifontein and while there will be increased patrols at night, there will also be more volunteers patrolling outside play areas where an increase in children is anticipated,” he said.

The six sectors comprise a wide range of neighbourhoods, from the relatively secure Peerless Park and Belmont Park to the drug-and-gangster-ridden areas of Bloekombos and Wallacedene.

Both the neighbourhood watches and the police advise residents to stay vigilant in the next few weeks.

“In areas like Peerless Park, where houses are fenced in, many people are lax about leaving their cars parked outside and often leave their garage doors open or the gates unlocked,” said Mr Smidt. “Don’t entice and tempt criminals. Leave nothing to chance and make sure that you put your cars inside if you have that facility. Leave on an outside light, and having large dogs in an outside yard also helps.”

In more vulnerable areas, such as Wallacedene, Mr Smidt advises residents not to walk alone late at night. “Gangsters wait at corners preying on those walking alone. Many salaried workers have also just received their bonuses and are preyed on just as they withdraw money. Be careful at the ATMs and also don’t fall prey to anyone in the queue who may ask or offer their help; it could be a scam,” he said.

Brackenfell police spokeswoman Captain Erica Crous said they would be increasing their visibility in crime hot spots.

“Maximum manpower will be deployed. We will also be focusing on safety in our shopping malls . “We, however, want to urge our community to be extra vigilant regarding their personal and their residential safety. We need too work together as a community to keep our area safe.”

Many community workers, including Mr Smidt, said holiday programmes were being held to keep children safe, as those in poorer neighbourhoods were often most vulnerable at this time of year.

Programmes already held at the Scottsdene Youth Centre and FF Erasmus Hall had been well attended and neighbourhood watch members had helped with security.

Children should not be left unattended and everyone in the community should keep an eye out for toddlers and those unable to take care of themselves.

Several full-day programmes (see page xx) are in place at community halls and schools.

“Keeping children off the street is one of the major issues we have to deal with and this is where these holiday activities play such an important role,” said Mr Smidt.