Over the past 2-3 weeks, a series of daring home intrusions/thefts have occurred in our area and a clear pattern is now emerging. A number of residents have reported overnight thefts of cell phones, jewellery and wallets/cash, with many items stolen from their homes, including their bedrooms, while they sleep!
It is now evident, from that emerging pattern, that under the cover of darkness the thief is entering premises through open windows, many of which are upstairs windows with no security bars. No forcible break-in is evident, no noise is made and no physical/DNA/fingerprint evidence is left behind. The perpetrator is capable of climbing high walls/fences/sides of buildings, gaining access through narrow openings, undertaking the theft quickly (taking small valuable items only) and leaving again without notice. Clearly, we are dealing with an accomplished and confident burglar that appears to know the area well and the vulnerable houses to target!
In all cases, the common factors are: (1) Open windows with no burglar bars installed are the chosen entry point; (2) No alarms/proximity beams appear to be primed, or triggered; (3) No noise is made or no dogs are alerted; (4) Intrusion and theft occurs between the hours of 02:00-05:00hrs under the cover of darkness; and (5) Other than the missing items, no other physical/DNA/fingerprint evidence is left behind.
Based on reports, the suspect is described as male, black, young, ‘skinny’, athletic, acrobatic, fast and ‘clean’. An attempted apprehension by a resident resulted in the perpetrator escaping when grabbed, as he was only wearing black shorts and was covered in an oily substance (making him slippery, for ease of access through narrow window openings and presumably, to avoid capture).
You are advised to take immediate precautions as follows:
1. Ensure your alarm system and proximity beams are primed and alarmed (or have your alarm serviced if not operational);
2. During the current warm nights, all open windows, including upstairs windows, should be protected by burglar bars or should be closed in order to enhance your safety and security;
3. Consider laying noise-traps or other means of raising the alarm of an intruder (while you sleep);
4. Allow your dogs roaming access to the house, as they can alert you to an intruder (while you sleep);
5. Switch-on security lights around your premises and lighting in hallways in your house overnight, to prevent ‘cover of darkness’ advantage to this intruder;
6. If you are a Quatro member, contact Quatro at any stage if you suspect an attempted intrusion and/or suspect the remotest possibility of a problem;
We must work together to apprehend this daring intruder, as this form of home intrusion is alarming and could possibly become more sinister in due course as this individual gains confidence. Female occupants should be especially careful in this regard.
However, in all cases you must assume responsibility for your own/your family security and you must take adequate precautions now to protect your valuables and your personal/family safety (while you sleep). It is better to be safe rather than sorry after the event!
Please contact Quatro on 0861 277 277 if you have any specific concerns, require security advice or wish to review your current security requirements!
Three suspects driving a stolen Opel Corsa broke into the house at 13 Union Street Riviera. This premises is an
Kilner Park Security client. The suspects were spotted and chased by Kilner Park Security and the SAPS into Arcadia. They were cornered in Harcourt Street where they abandoned the vehicle and started jumping fences. Two Quatro vehicles also got involved in the search (The Arcadia vehicle plus a backup). Al three suspects were arrested.
ARRA-Quatro Crime & Security Initiative (Sub-Committee Chair: Flor Healy): Download Here
A number of studies have been done on why one person is chosen over another by criminals. This is known as the study of “victimology” which is a branch of criminology. One surprising factor that emerged during the studies was that criminals do not choose their victims based on age, gender, race or size but rather on characteristics which could be deemed vulnerable, easy to control or manipulate.
Most of these characteristics are subconscious and often most people don’t even know they are displaying these behaviours.
Some of the characteristics identified by researches include:
Moving at a slower pace than the normal flow of pedestrian traffic.
Dragging or shuffling your feet – walking without a sense of purpose.
Awkward movement with less coordination and balance or confidence.
A slumped posture with a downward gaze – this often indicates a general unawareness of your surroundings which can be viewed as submissive behaviour or indicate an easier target because the victim will not notice the criminal until the last minute.
Any form of distraction such as talking on the phone, texting, listening to music or any behaviour which could indicate that you are not paying attention.
Being encumbered by items such as shopping bags, handbags or back packs.
Criminals generally look out for potential victims who are not paying attention and are not perceived to be aware of their surroundings. Some criminals also take advantage of the “bystander effect” which is a social psychological phenomenon, where in a crowd, everyone assumes that someone else will help you, but in the end no one does.
Take note that many other factors also determine a potential target such as the time of day, whether you are alone and if you are in a vulnerable position (a quiet side street or poorly lit area), and that altering your behaviour may not guarantee you will not become a victim.
The best defence is to always be aware of your surroundings and not to place yourself in potentially compromising situations.
VIGILANCE IS REQUIRED WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR SECURITY!
In terms of incidents of crime in the catchment area above Stanza Bopape Street, the continuous presence of the Quatro Patrol Vehicle and the objective of proactive patrols on a 24-hour basis have contributed to a significant containment of ‘opportunist’ crime. It is worrying to consider what the situation would be like without the constant presence of the Quatro Patrol Vehicle, and the rapid response rate it achieves when responding to alarm call-outs or panic alerts, as the crime situation in our residential area would certainly otherwise be a very serious concern. The very slow response rate of the police, and the ad-hoc and patchy response rates evident from ADT and Chubb in particular, leave a lot to be desired and only serve to heighten the disparity in service quality and reliability between Quatro and the other options.
The incidents of crime in our area have, until recently, been mainly classified as ‘opportunist’ crimes, usually involving petty criminals engaged in smash-and-grab incidents from parked vehicles or house break-ins, or attempted break-ins, when the occupant was away. In those cases, it is clear that certain individuals operating in the area were closely monitoring their targets and would seize the opportunity to strike when the occupant was careless in protecting their possessions and property, often when valuables were left in a vehicle in public view, where a gate or door was not closed or when an alarm was not primed. In many, if not all, of these cases, the crime concerned could have been avoided with a little more care and vigilance on the part of the resident concerned. Why make it easy for these ‘opportunist’ criminals in the first place?
In 2014 to-date, we have experienced 42 reported incidents in our area (77 reported incidents in 2013 and 38 reported incidents in 2012), which is a worrying trend. Many of these incidents were in premises of non-members of the ARRA-Quatro scheme! On the plus side, Quatro succeeded in securing 3 arrests this year (and 10 arrests in 2013). This is a clear crime spike in the period after Christmas and around major holiday periods, and one which is of major concern to ARRA-Quatro. In many of the cases, the criminals appear to seek-out electronic goods such as flat-screen TVs, sound equipment, lap-top computers and cell phones. These incidents that have all of the hallmarks of a more organised and sinister modus operandi emerging. We cannot become complacent and must remain vigilant and alert to this ever-present threat to our security.
It is also interesting to note that the occurrence of crime appears to be evident in waves, where we experience a spike in crimes for short intensive periods and then matters stabilise to the standard few ‘opportunist’ incidents, when the organised criminals then move elsewhere. We have noticed also, that our neighbouring residential areas in Clydesdale, Colbyn and Rietondale in particular, appear to experience the same revolving trends and patterns. We are increasingly of the view that an organised criminal gang is operating in the general area incorporating Arcadia, Clydesdale, Colbyn, Hatfield and Rietondale. We have brought the matter to the notice of the Community Policing Forum (CPF) and intend meeting with them formally as a group of the affected residents’ associations concerned, under the ‘umbrella’ of OPERRA (the Old Pretoria East Residents’ & Ratepayers’ Alliance). As the ARRA-Quatro Crime & Security Initiative, our primary concern is the welfare and safety of our members first and foremost at all times.
In the meantime, we urge all residents in the area above Stanza Bopape Street, as well as elsewhere, to adopt a cautious and vigilant approach to your security, along the following lines:
- First, assume you are under constant threat and your movements are being closely and constantly scrutinised by opportunist criminals on your street, for which you must vary your routines and adopt a more assertive and alert presence in your actions;
- Second, do not make it easy for an ‘opportunist’ criminal to strike by leaving valuables in public view in your vehicle, by allowing a gate or side door to remain open for any duration, or by not primining your alarm system when you are out (no matter how short the duration);
- Third, install, upgrade and/or test your monitored alarm system, as this is the most effective means of protecting yourself, your family and your possessions from risks of crime and loss (especially, when Quatro undertakes to respond within 3 minutes of an alarm being triggered);
- Fourth, if your domestic worker or gardener is living on your premises, or is there most of the day alone, then you must equip your domestic worker or gardener with a panic button (or at least airtime to be able to call Quatro on 0861 277 277) to minimise the chances of forced entry;
- Fifth, ensure that your domestic worker or gardener is not unknowingly engaged in giving sensitive information to other staff in the area or to strangers calling to your premises, as this is potentially one of the most compromising of all actions – they should also never allow strangers or those purporting to be ‘officials’ access to your property (even with ID);
- Sixth, install and use lighting to illuminate your premises at night time, and consider installing proximity beams to give you advance notice of a perimeter breach and/or an intruder on your property – this is often the first line of defence in your protection before matters escalate;
- Finally, we encourage that you call Quatro (on 0861 277 277) or trigger the panic alert once you sense that something is not right (no matter how trivial), as the system is designed to be proactive rather than reactive and the Patrol Vehicle will respond to your need within 3 minutes (at no charge to you as a member of the scheme);
Currently, there are 175 members of the ARRA-Quatro Crime & Security scheme, with a number of new clients likely to join when they move into recently purchased homes. Quatro, with the support of ARRA, endeavours to provide a dedicated and professional service to its members through the monitored alarm service, the dedicated patrol vehicle and the newly launched foot patrol service. However, there are approximately 280 homes and properties in the catchment area (excluding the Falcons complex), and we estimate that 40% of them are not participating in the ARRA-Quatro scheme, most of which are prime targets for criminals operating in the area. Despite all of its successes, the ARRA-Quatro scheme continues to face a major challenge – that of ‘complacency’ – where the service is gradually being taken-for-granted by the wider community, particularly those not participating in the scheme but indirectly benefitting from it!
The objective of promoting a community-based scheme that is built on maximum participation and support of the residents in the catchment area is critical to its long-term success, for the following reasons:
- There is strength in numbers, in terms of negotiating power, and greater cost-effectiveness for evolving and enhancing services tailored to suit the needs of the residents in the catchment area;
- Increased numbers means lower cost for the basic services – but also means that new services can be added at no cost, or in some cases, at very low additional cost e.g. increased foot patrols, CCTV and new monitoring service enhancements (with new technologies);
We need increased members to create a truly community-based and equitable scheme that serves all equally and fairly. We must not take this innovative and effective service for granted – it is a model that can only be sustained by a larger membership base and greater engagement by the community in its development! In the face of increasingly organised and dangerous criminal activities, we must stand together (ideally under one scheme) and become more vigilant as a community in fighting crime and criminal activity more proactively.