Police are investigating a surge in home robberies in Hout Bay in the past month.
Last week, robbers struck at two houses, just a few streets apart, within hours of each other.
Those two robberies could have been the work of the same four men, says Hout Bay police station commander Lieutenant Colonel Masakala.
“The community is urged to call the police should they notice any suspicious persons in the area,” Lieutenant Colonel Masakala said. “Community members are asked to lock doors and make sure that they do not open for anyone who is not known.” .
The home robberies are happening in the early evening before people tend to check doors are locked for the night.
Police say there have also been several business robberies where the perpetrators have entered the store moments before closing time.
A resident, who did not want to be named, told the Sentinel News about a robbery that had happened a few doors down from him just more than a month ago. It had brought back traumatic memories, he said.
“I know how scary it is, the time drags during this time, and you are not sure of whether or not you will make it out of this nightmare.”
He and his family were victims of a home invasion in 2018. The robbers tied him up along with his wife, his mother and his three children and kept them in separate bedrooms while they ransacked their Constantia home.
“We moved out of Constantia because of that incident,” he said. “We moved to Hout Bay, where I secured everything, and we are a lot more cautious now, but those memories will be forever.
“When I heard about my neighbour and good friend being robbed, our family jumped in to support and offer whatever help we could.
“Time are tough and people will do stupid things just to make some extra cash. I can only see it getting worse.”
Another Hout Bay man said his cousin, also from Hout Bay, had been robbed last month and his family held up at gunpoint.
Five men pulled up outside their garage door and entered the premises after their daughter arrived home from college.
“They tied up the family including the grandmother. They trashed the place, trying to find the most valuable items. Each of them were placed in separate rooms and that must have been scary, not knowing what is happening to each of them,” he said.
The Hout Bay Community Police Forum chairman Anthony Chemaly urged residents to check that their security systems were armed and working.
Criminals could use the surrounding terrain to their advantage, he said.
”It’s very difficult to manage the large areas of mountain which allow easy movement of these gangs around the residential fringes.”
The Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch (HBNW) said the robberies appeared to be “well-planned and co-ordinated”.
HBNW chairwoman Liezl Schulte, said most of the incidents were happening between 7.30pm and 9pm.
The watch was working with the police, CPF and security companies to assess the crime patterns and take extra measures to deal with vulnerabilities, she said.
“Please take the time to regularly test your alarm and panic buttons, arm your home security system at night, check your fences and perimeters, think about installing early detection mechanisms and most importantly have an agreed plan with your family members on how you plan to act in the event of an incident.”
Ward councillor Roberto Quintas said Hout Bay should have better “resourced, energised and equipped police services”, capable of following leads and arresting criminals with sufficient evidence for successful convictions.
“Sadly, the failure of the judicial system sees many repeat offenders back on the street on bail, and terrorising the local community with impunity,” he said.
* Suspicious activity can be reported to Watchcon at 021 790 9333 or the Hout Bay police at 021 791 9300.