Fairways residents are calling for a stronger police presence following several house burglaries in the area.
According to the Fairways Neighbourhood Watch, the so-called crowbar gang, or a group that operates with the same modus operandi, has been targeting homes in the areas for the past few months.
The crowbar gang has become synonymous with several house break-ins in various areas including Bergvliet, Plumstead and Southfield.
A group of robbers hit on weekdays when the area is quiet, enter the home using crowbars and other tools, take whatever they can and are usually out of the house between two and five minutes.
According to Fairways Neighbourhood Watch public relations officer Robert Heneke, alarms, security systems and security gates don’t deter the criminals.
“Usually there’s an LED light that flickers when the alarm is on at a residence. This lets the criminals know that no one is home. They burgle the house and are out in no time, before the security company gets to the house to catch them,” said Mr Heneke.
Resident Muzaid Wilsnach who has been living in the area for 40 years, was is one of the more recent victims of the syndicate.
On Friday August 25, while he was at work, he received a call from his security company about a disturbance at the house.
“The gang entered my home via a security gate they pried open. While I was on the phone with the security they were in and out of my home in less than three minutes, taking TVs and a PlayStation. It is the most disturbing feeling of not being able to do something while your home is being violated.
“I called the police and they only came out to my home an hour and a half later. At this point I am looking to move because the situation is getting out of control and homes are being burgled weekly,” said Mr Wilsnach.
Mr Heneke said there had, in fact, been break-ins, attempted break-ins and other criminal activity almost daily.
Another resident, who did not want to be named, said burglars got away with TVs when his home was broken into in July.
“They were in and out within a couple of minutes. The alarm system went off but by the time security guards came to the house, they were gone.
“How do we safeguard our homes from these people when it is so easy for them to come and take what we’ve worked so hard for?”
“As the neighbourhood watch we try our best to patrol and keep the area safe but there is only so much we can do because these criminals change their strike time depending on our patrols and they watch residents’ movements and then pounce,” he said.
Panton Road Park in Fairways has also been identified as a hotspot for drug peddling and illicit activities. “Besides the break-ins, the park has become a haven for selling drugs, drinking and other crimes. We need more intervention from police and more visible patrols,” said Mr Heneke.
Ward councillor Monty Oliver said he was aware of the break-ins and had received several complaints from residents.
He added that while policing was not the City of Cape Town’s mandate, his office has been looking at ways to try and help the community with what they deem to be a crisis.
“We have been informed about the issues at the park and have since put a fence up. We have also asked Metro police to patrol in the area.
“With regards to the break-ins, the City has been in contact with the Department of Public Works to put up a fence behind the houses in First Avenue so that criminals cannot use the bushed up area to get away.
“The land belongs to the Department of Public Works so they will be allocating money for the fence that will run from the end of Hyde Road all the way to Plantation Road,” said Mr Oliver.
Mr Heneke believes the fence at both the park and bushy area will help deter criminals but asked residents to play their part in keeping the neighbourhood safe. “Grassy Park police station has its limitations in terms of resources with vehicles, staff and other things so we need to be as proactive as possible.
“If we have more members in the neighbourhood watch to patrol or people who can be keep an eye out in their street and report when they suspicious activity, that would help and hopefully we can reduce the crime,” said Mr Heneke.
Fairways Residents’ and Civic Association (FRESCA) chairperson Dmitri Jegels concurred and encouraged residents to join either the association or neighbourhood watch. “The police are fully taxed. More resources are allocated to a specific area because there are higher number of crimes. We can’t blame police if only so many resources are allocated to Fairways because there are more resources put out in Parkwood,” he said.
Mr **JEGELS??** said his home had been broken in several times. “Last year police caught a group of people who broke into my house and they were persecuted. So they are doing what they can. If we work together as a community, get to know our neighbours and look out for each other’s homes we can hopefully stop the surge of crime Fairways.”
Grassy Park acting police station commander Lieutenant Colonel Christian Esau confirmed that they were aware of break- ins in the greater Grassy Park policing precinct.
“There have been cases where we have found that doors and burglar gates have been opened by force. We urge the community to be vigilant and aware of unknown vehicles and persons in the area and to report to the police station or 10111.
“Be aware of strange or unknown vehicles pulling up in driveways of residences,” he said.
He added that patrols had been increased in the area. “Communities also need to form WhatsApp groups and street committees, to update neighbours on what is happening the area,” said Lieutenant Colonel Esau.