Theft of and out of motor vehicles a growing concern for Port Elizabeth police – some tips

BY YOLANDA PALEZWENI - NOVEMBER 11, 2016

Ahead of the Festive Season, Port Elizabeth police on Thursday said that while they are committed to ensuring that all Nelson Mandela Bay residents are safe, the public should also take the necessary precautions in safeguarding their personal belongings.

“Theft out of motor vehicles is a huge concern and drivers are still very lackadaisical and leave valuables in the vehicles overnight. An appeal is also made to drivers not to be lazy and park their vehicles on the road but rather inside their property,” said Port Elizabeth police spokesperson, Colonel Priscilla Naidu.

She added that, despite having a lock up garage or an allocated parking space inside a complex, owners choose to park their vehicles on the verges, as a result, they are broken into.

“Valuables such as expensive cell phones, laptops and sports equipment appear to be the common items left in the vehicles and areas of concern are Humewood, Mount Road, Algoa Park and Walmer. Items left visible on car seats also invite the opportunistic criminal,” Colonel Naidu said.

Ensure the vehicle is indeed locked

She urged drivers to make sure that their vehicles are locked when activating the remote locking devices and make sure about two or three times that the vehicle is in fact locked.

“It takes a few seconds to manually check whether the doors are locked. Many times, owners press the automated remote while walking away without even checking whether it is activated or not.

“It has been noted that many reports have shown that no forced entry was gained into the vehicles and yet valuables are stolen from vehicles. This type of theft occurs mainly in the shopping complexes, along the beachfront and restaurant parking areas,” described Colonel Naidu.

She advised that when placing valuables in the boot of the vehicle, do not do so when you have reached your destination and are about to leave the vehicle. Place valuables in the boot prior to arriving to your destination. 

Don’t stop along the N2 freeway

Police further warned motorists to be wary when stopping on the side of the N2 to inspect their vehicle or for any reason.

“Many motorists are falling prey to criminals, who are surprising them and robbing them of their wallets and cell phones. It is advised that should there be a need to stop, rather do so at a garage or a safer place. Do not stop where people are already standing on the side of the freeway,” said Colonel Naidu.

Fit cell phones with tracking apps

She added that many cell phone users have sophisticated and hi-tech phones whereby the phones are installed with tracking devices.

“Should a phone such as that is stolen, the owner is requested to immediately track the phone and report to the police. Most cell phone owners report the matter for insurance purposes only,” she said.

Motor vehicle theft at dealerships increasing

It is alleged that, the theft of expensive second hand vehicles is also on the increase and that the latest modus operandi is that the suspect has in his possession of a list of vehicles that is for sale.

She added that the suspect then approaches the dealer on the pretence of test driving the vehicle. At some stage of the test drive, he manages to separate himself from the sales rep and then drives off in the vehicle.   

“Another trend is that the interested buyer will test drive the vehicle and when he returns, he hands over the wrong key to the dealership. He later returns and without been seen, drives away in the vehicle,” she said.

According to the police, in the last month, two cases of this nature have been reported to the Mount Road police. 

“Dealerships are advised to screen the potential buyer properly and to make certain that the ID produced is that of the person physically standing in the shop,” she said.

Police appeal to anyone, who may have further information relating to this trend to contact the Vehicle Identification and Safeguarding Section (VIS) D/W/O Marietjie Devenish on 079 896 7327.

Stokvel money safety 

“As we near the festive season, many people have invested in savings in what is commonly known as ‘stokvel’. During this time of the year, thousands of Rands are withdrawn to be paid out to those in the ‘syndicate’,” she said.

Police advise that instead of withdrawing such large amounts of cash, the money should be paid into the bank accounts of the recipients, thus avoiding the physical handling of huge amounts of cash, and that will also deter criminals, who are aware of such stokvels.  

Colonel Naidu said addressing crime in the Bay can only be achieved if individuals and communities cooperate with the police by volunteering information on criminals and their activities.

Residents should also take reasonable steps to ensure their personal safety.

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