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Crime in Newcastle is intensifying, with the Newcastle Police Station confirming burglaries are on the rise in town.
Police spokesperson, Lizzy Arumugam declares the SAPS has identified five areas in town, where burglaries are most prevalent. These hotspots are:
- Pioneer Park
- CBD Residential
Arumugam says the police attribute the growing problem to financial gain, drugs, unemployment, vacant houses, and criminal activities, with most cases taking place at night. Furthermore, she affirms, “A task team has been formed to concentrate on burglaries.”
This will see police conducting vehicle and foot patrols, blue light patrols, observation, as well as stop and searches.
However, while local law enforcement is taking proactive steps, Arumugam explains that the community can also minimise the crime from escalating further. “The act of housebreaking is well explained by its name. It is when thieves break into your house to steal, by a forced entry or by threatening you to open for them. This can happen in your presence or while you are away.”
With this in mind, she provides the following tips to Newcastillians:
- Know all emergency numbers.
- Keep your cellphone in the bedroom.
- Never leave keys in a gate or a lock.
- The locks on outside doors should be changed when you move into a new home or after keys have been lost or stolen.
- Make provision for good outside lighting. Remember, outdoor lights that are on during the day draw attention to thieves.
- Never leave workman unattended in your home. You should also conduct thorough background checks before employing anyone (permanent or casual workers). Moreover, be careful about what is discussed in front of your staff.
- Don’t leave your garage, front door, or back door open or partially open – it serves as an invitation to burglars.
- Never open the door automatically when someone knocks. Make sure the person wanting to enter is expected.
- Robbers have on occasion been known to pose as police. You can identify a police member in the following way:
- Officers must carry an identification card stating their name, rank, service number and photograph.
- If in uniform, the member will wear a nameplate with the police star on the badge, as well as epaulettes indicating rank.
- Officers in plainclothes and members in uniform may be requested to identify themselves with identification cards( known as appointment certificates in the SAPS)
- A watchdog is also a great warning system and deterrent. However, the unexplained death of a dog is a warning sign of a possible burglary.
- If your alarm goes off, or you hear strange noises, or your dogs’ bark, switch on the outside lights and investigate with caution. Don’t go outside before you are sure it is safe. If you have a ‘panic button’, keep it close at hand and use it if you see anyone on your property who does not belong there.
- When approaching your house, ensure it is safe to enter and that you have not been followed. Be on the lookout for persons loitering at the entrance, vehicles stopping when you slow down or anything unusual.
- Always keep your keys safe to prevent them from being duplicated. Never leave your house keys under a doormat or in a pot. Once you have locked your door from the inside, remove the key from the keyhole and place it in a safe place, where it cannot be reached from a window.
- Know your neighbours and build a relationship of mutual trust and support. When going away on holiday, inform them, or make arrangements for your house to be watched.
If your house has been broken into, Arumugam states one should adhere to the following tips:
- Contact the police station.
- Wait until fingerprints and statements are taken before touching anything.
- Unless it is absolutely necessary, don’t allow private security companies to enter the house or touch anything before the police have investigated the scene.
- Look out for strange footprints in the garden and point them to the police.
- A list of the make, model and serial numbers of electrical appliances and other valuable equipment should always be available for investigation purposes.
With the number of housebreakings on the rise, what are your thoughts? Share your views with us in the comment section below.