Police in central Cape Town, where theft from cars, is the highest in the country, have set up a drive-thru so motorists can get their cars fingerprinted in the time it takes to grab a burger and fries.
According to national crime statistics, thefts from cars rose 5% from the beginning April in 2017 to the end of March last year, with 3956 cases reported in that period.
Police hope the drive-thru will help to reverse those numbers.
Victims of vehicle break-ins can now pull into a booth in Parade Street and have fingerprints lifted in under 20 minutes before taking their car for repairs.
The fingerprinting department – officially known as the Local Criminal Resource Centre – in Parade Street has changed its working arrangements – having officers work shifts instead of being on standby – so the service can be offered round the clock.
Cape Town police spokesman Captain Ezra October said complainants should first open a case at the police station in Buitenkant Street before going to Parade Street to get the car dusted for prints.
The drive-thru booth has designated parking for those who need to use it, getting around the parking problems that have discouraged crime victims from getting their vehicles checked for prints in the past.
“If someone’s car was broken into, and they try to come to the police station, they cannot get a parking, so they drive away and they repair the car. If we send officers out to look at it, there is no evidence because the car was already fixed,” said Colonel Gideon Mathansi, from the Local Criminal Resource Centre.
“The vehicle booth resolves this, because now people have a designated space to park their damaged car.”
Lifting fingerprints was important for linking criminals, he said.
“If we find a positive fingerprint, we can run it through the system and find the suspected thief. This way, we can get them behind bars and lower the cases of theft out of motor vehicle in the city.
We have empathy for these people, but we need to catch these criminals. We urge people, no matter how big of a hurry they are in, to report the incident and get the fingerprints lifted before they leave the city.”
He urged people not to fix their cars before fingerprints were lifted.
Captain October said the new system would also stop people laying false charges.