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The release of national crime statistics for the year 2012/13 recently made by the national Minister of Police showed that whilst there was a steady decline in almost all categories of crime during the year under review there was nevertheless a slight increase in property related crimes. This includes housebreakings, common theft and theft out of vehicles, all of which directly affect our particular area. It was also pointed out that drug and alcohol abuse coupled with unemployment are contributing factors to crime, all of which are prevalent in our particular area.
Together with Grabouw (+46%) and Caledon (+33%) our area has shown a dramatic increase of 47% for the period under review. Betty’s Bay has been a large contributor to this statistic. The question being asked is why is our area being targeted since our area is not unique? Other areas along the Overstrand coast which are also faced with similar problems such as vacant holiday homes, unemployment, poverty and drug abuse are not experiencing as many housebreakings and theft as we are having.

Whilst Betty’s Bay may have shown a slight reduction over the last couple of months when compared to earlier this year we cannot be allowed to become complacent as this trend fluctuates on a month by month basis which can be attributed to a number of factors. The many incidents of theft out of vehicles and from unlocked houses remain a concern and are particularly bad in the Betty’s Bay area when compared to other neighbouring villages. The majority of these cases can to a large extent be described as shear negligence on the part of the owners especially when valuables are left in vehicles which in some cases were left unlocked. The message of securing valuables and securing ones homes from unlawful access is not getting through to our residents and/or their visitors. Far too many incidents over the last couple of weeks involve the failure of occupants to adhere to simple precautionary measures of securing their properties. Far too many people are entertaining elsewhere on their properties whilst doors and windows are either left open or unlocked. Residents need to take more responsibility for the safety of their properties. Far too many residents retire for the night and leave windows open and alarms switched off. Quite a number of housebreakings are in fact now taking place whilst owners are in residence. There have been far too many incidents of theft out of vehicles where cameras, laptops, cellphones, wallets are being left in vehicles in full view of opportunistic thieves.
Many of the houses in the Betty’s Bay area are vacant holiday homes and vulnerable to breakings. These areas are more likely to become vulnerable to criminal activity because of the lack of visible NW activity. We urgently need to become more organized, work together and work smarter on plans so as to address the problems in those areas. Residents in some zones have already taken ownership of their areas and are doing something about it; they are out on patrol and are showing a significant reduction in crime in their areas. In other areas residents have upgraded their systems and/or taken additional protection measures. The possibility is that the culprits will move to softer targets.
Whilst additional police visibility would certainly make a difference, the community also needs to maintain a partnership with SAPS and contribute by implementing precautionary measures to secure their properties and possessions.
The under mentioned letter from Peter Berrisford is an example of what precautionary measures can be taken to protect ones property.

Hi Dan
I think the answer is for everyone to add levels of security to their homes.
For example, I have now upgraded as follows
1. Beams all round
2. Upgraded the alarm system
3. Security doors fitted
4. The glass fitted to all windows in my new extensions is fitted with reinforced glass. Very difficult to break, even with a hammer.
5. CCTV camera facing down my drive. It lights up if it senses movement
6. I have fitted a movement sensitive spotlight facing down my drive
7. Movement sensitive lights at corners to my house which simply light up if there is movement
8. Electric wires round the roof mainly for baboons but will shock an intruder
9. Dog outside at night
10. Polycarbonate burglar bar strips to be fitted to certain vulnerable windows. These are not intrusive and are very clear but strong.
11. Some doors have three locks
12. Curtains facing the street open when away, because all houses that close their curtains simply advertise that the owner is away.
13. Lock all doors even when at home
14. Boat and trailer are chained. Motor is chained to the boat trailer. Both trailers are chained together
15. Blue light lights up when the beams and alarm are set. Beams and alarm are set when retiring for the night.
16. Safe have emergency contact numbers.
17. Gas cylinders are in a chained cage
18. Some outside pipes are now plastic
Remain vigilant at all times.
I regularly question suspicious people in the street-politely of course.
You can see that my approach is to outwit burglars and provide levels of defence
The broad reasons why Betty’s Bay is susceptible to crime are clearly as follows.
1. Maybe 80% of houses are unoccupied
2. The township is spread out with many vacant plots.
3. There are many places for culprits to hide and escape
4. We have multiple entrances
5. Many folk don’t pay much attention to security systems especially a decent alarm system
In summary, Betty’s Bay is a crook’s paradise. The way we defend ourselves is to recognise the risk factors and take collective action to secure our properties. The Neighbourhood Watch system does a great job. You do a great job giving sound advice to all property owners but many simply are too careless and appear to imagine they will escape. The facts are that there is a finite risk that every one of us will experience a crime incident at some time or another.
I used your crime statistics some time ago to work out that our village suffers losses from thefts, burglaries and general crime of millions Rands a year worked on the basis of an average loss being about R10000 multiplied by the number of incidents you reported. Unreported losses clearly increase this loss.
The community should be able to justify spending money on beefing up security patrols substantially but there is a strange resistance to accept that such an investment pays off.
Maybe publishing this comment in the Buzz might help some folk to get off their proverbial and take action!!
Regards
Peter

Letter from Prof Michael Orren
Dear Dan,
I basically agree with Peter Berrisford about crime in that householders, especially “weekenders”, need to be much more concerned about security of their own property rather than expect someone else to do it for them. We have fitted extra locks on our sliding doors (cost us nearly R600) to prevent a recurrence of our fortunately minor burglary where the locked stoep glass door was lifted to gain entry. We reported it and the police came so it was registered by the SAPS.
I strongly support the idea to publish his piece prominently in The Buzz. There is, however, always an attitude of ‘it will happen to someone else and NOT me’. But we should still definitely make the effort and perhaps some will at last take note. Maybe you should write a preface emphasizing that the article should be taken very seriously? We do try to keep our place locked and alarmed, changed our copper piping and have gas cylinders chained up etc.
Nonetheless, I am not sure whether the additional security steps Peter has taken will be followed up by too many since the several extra alarm systems are expensive, need to be maintained in top order, are an issue if persons other than the owner make use of the house (e.g., inadvertent triggering of the alarm(s)), some of our elderly residents find even a simple alarm hard to handle, while a determined burglar will always circumvent any security setup given time and tools
should they suspect there are highly valuable items in the house. And a house with lots of high fences, alarm wires etc sends out a signal that there may be valuable items in such a well-protected house and might attract more professional burglars rather than the opportunistic casual ones.
As you know I quite frequently attend meetings in the evenings, drive home relatively late when BB seems almost like a blacked-out ghost town, and always keep an eye open for any suspicious activity. I was posting a letter at Penguin Place the other night quite late and nobody was about, then Safe Security rushed up probably thinking I was burgling the shop! They saw my little old white Nissan with the roof rack outside, knew it was me did a U-turn and drove off again without speaking to me. At least they are trying!
After all the publicity about not putting out rubbish on the street to minimize baboon damage I still see literally dozens of black bags out on the side of the roads on Mondays, even quite close to my house, when I drive around our village to look at water damage etc. People will seemingly only listen if you coerce them!
Keep up the good fight!
Best wishes,
Michael.