Warnings from police to keep safe

Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch

Hout Bay police have asked residents and visitors to be extra vigilant this festive season.

“Every year at around this time we see an increase in house break-ins and theft out of motor vehicles, so we are calling on the public to be wary,” Hout Bay police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Tanya Lesch, said this week.

“Property owners must ensure their homes are always locked, and arm their security systems before leaving the house. Homes are particularly susceptible on bin days.

“We are also warning people in complexes to be vigilant. Recently an incident was reported in which three of four vehicles were broken into the same complex. Residents must be sure of who exactly is wanting to gain access to the complex.”

She said the fact there was a massive influx of tourists, many of whom were unaware of the presence of bag snatchers and thieves, made policing more difficult.

“There is a lot of opportunistic crime, which is why it is important for people to walk in groups and be aware of their personal space. People walking in big groups is often a deterrent to criminals. We also recommend that people carry pepper spray and always have their cellphones with them in the event of an attack.

“As soon as a crime occurs, people should call the police so that we can make an arrest as soon as possible.”

Warrant Officer Lesch added that additional patrols involving various stakeholders would be rolled out as part of the annual Beach Safety Project.

“These volunteers will patrol the beaches from 10am to 8pm each day until the children go back to school in January,” she said.

This year Tammy Matthysen has offered to manage the project under the auspices of the Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch.

The project runs from Wednesday December 7 and ends on Wednesday January 18.

“This project is run by volunteers who sign up for a two-hour shift to patrol the beach to make sure that crime is minimised. Volunteers also assist in keeping swimmers in the designated swimming areas to prevent them from being swept out to sea by strong rip tides,” Ms Matthysen said.

“I intend to spend my entire summer on the beach. It’s a community project aimed at safety on our beaches. We work together with City Law Enforcement, SAPS, NSRI and our local security companies.”

The Hout Bay Neighbourhood Watch has also called for more volunteers to make the project a success this year.

“We are calling on patrollers to be the eyes and the ears on the beach. Each patroller will have a HBNW vest, a radio that is linked to Watchcon (the 24X7 HBNW control centre in Hout Bay) and a procedure guide. The role of a patroller is to be the eyes and ears on the beach. They report any suspicious activity or medical emergency to Watchcon. Once the call is received, Watchcon will alert the appropriate response teams to ensure fast action. We all work as a team to try to
ensure zero crime on the beach,” she said.

“There will be a get-together before the season kicks off to go over procedures and to ‘meet ‘* greet’ fellow patrollers, security companies and SAPS members. It’s a great way to get out the house, meet the locals and our many visitors to Hout Bay.”

Massimo’s have agreed to donate a R100 voucher for every patroller who completes two or more patrols on the beach this season, and Ms Matthysen is appealing for more local businesses to provide incentives to those who join in and support this project.

To get involved in this project as a patroller or as a sponsor, email Ms Matthysen at beach@hbnw.co.za or call her on 061 913 7151.