Crime spike in Hout Bay

The release of prisoners released on parole prior to the festive season has been cited as one of the causes of the sudden crime spike in Hout Bay.

Throughout January, reports of house robberies and break-ins flooded local social media groups, and while Hout Bay police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch was not able to divulge any official statistics, she confirmed that crime in the area had increased.

In a statement last week, the Hout Bay Community Police Forum (CPF) said police had made 45 arrests so far in February, more than half of them drug-related.

On Friday, February 10, an integrated crime prevention operation between SAPS, Metro police, Law Enforcement and Traffic was also conducted in Hout Bay.

Warrant Officer Lesch said there had been two arrests for drug possession of drugs, where tik, nine packets of dagga and loose dagga were confiscated. Eleven dagga plants were handed in.

“A total of R76 000 of fines were issued at roadblocks and vehicle check points. Eleven packets (220 cigarettes) of counterfeit cigarettes was found abandoned by the containers in Salamander Road, Hangberg,” she said.

Thefts of car batteries from parked vehicles have been particularly worrying, and Beach Estate, Hughenden and North Shore were among the areas hardest hit in recent weeks.

CPF chairman Toby Adams has long believed that the annual end-of-year release of parole prisoners drives up crime at the start of the year.

“Correctional Services releases a large number of people before Christmas, and there is always a spike,” Mr Adams said.

“One of the problems is that this department does not always notify the local SAPS sufficiently as to who is coming into the area. Consequently, you have a case where police not only don’t know who is coming into their area, but they don’t know what the people’s parole conditions are.”

Both Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch spokeswoman Tammy Matthysen and Warrant Officer Lesch agreed.

“Parolees come out of prison and they don’t have anything, so what you find is that they resort back to a life of crime,” Ms Matthysen said, with Warrant Officer Lesch adding that what Mr Adams had stated was “fact”. “Parole will always have its challenges,” she said.

Mr Adams said that because the police were so under-resourced it was important for the community to support local crime-fighting organisations. “The situation has become very difficult. There are cases where people have their car doors open for a minute and a thief will brazenly walk past and take an item from the back seat. This happens in broad daylight,” he said.

Ms Matthysen emphasised the importance of neighbourhood watches to tackle crime.

“Patrollers are issued with a radio, so they can get in touch with WatchCon immediately. It is a very successful system, and it really assists the police,” she said.

“We encourage more people to join their neighbourhood watches as much as possible.”