Thieves target SPCA

A break-in at the Cape of Good Hope Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Grassy Park has been strongly condemned.

Damage worth more than R100 000 will have a crippling effect on services provided at the facility in First Avenue.

Thieves entered the SPCA’s premises during the early hours of Monday morning, August 21, at about 4.30am.

They stole the batteries from five vehicles, damaged the vehicle bodies and bonnet catches and also took computer equipment.

Three of the vehicles are mobile clinics which drive out to communities to provide primary veterinary care.

One is an education vehicle used to drive to schools in the metropole for educational programmes and to transport children’s pets to the hospital for sterilisation and the other is a charity shop vehicle used to collect donated goods for the animals or that are sold to create income.

The mobile units serve areas such as Coniston Park, Capricorn Park, Steenberg, Parkwood, Plumstead, Seawinds and communities as far as Blackheath, Bishop Lavis, Eerste River, Gugulethu, Harare, Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein and Mandalay.

The mobile clinics on average sees to 2 000 animals a month –about 500 a week.

When Southern Mail visited the facility, staff were trying to salvage what they could to get the vans working again as soon as possible.

Belinda Abraham, SPCA communication’s manager, said they were unable to send their mobile clinics out.

“We are therefore unable to provide services to the many animals and their owners who rely on us. It is infuriating that there is a heartless element within our communities who fail to recognise the importance of our work and who place animal lives and community health on the line for the price a few stolen goods can bring,” said Ms Abraham.

It is, however, not the first time they have been targeted. “We have security guards, electric fencing, remote control and pin code access and alarm monitoring to name just a few of the security measures we have implemented over the past few months to protect our animals, our staff and our assets,” Ms Abraham said.

They will be looking into additional measures, however affordability will be the deciding factor. “It is tragic that we already have to invest in the region of R60 000 per month in security measures,” said Ms Abraham.

Grassy Park Community Policing Forum (CPF) PRO Philip Bam said the break-in was unfortunate.

“Neighbourhood watches are very active in the area but still the criminals managed to break-in to the vehicles. We as the CPF condemn their actions because they cause major damage to a facility that provides community services. Those same people probably come to the facility to get help for their animals. They should have more respect,” said Mr Bam.

“To do such damage to a community institution is horrible and the community shouldn’t tolerate it. We will ask the neighbourhood watches to increase patrols and we ask residents who have any information to come forward to the CPF or police,” said Mr Bam.

Resident Garth Fortune said it is appalling that the SPCA was targeted.

“It is sad that a place that is only here to help the community is being crippled by thieves who are probably only looking for their next high. We as a community need to stand together to stop this from happening again,” he said.

Grassy Park police spokesperson Warrant Officer Wynita Kleinsmith confirmed a case of malicious damage to property and theft out of motor vehicle was opened. She said the case was being investigated and no one has been arrested yet. She advised those with information to come forward by calling 021 700 3900.

Meanwhile, Ms Abraham welcomed any donations. “We would be most grateful for any support that will help us recover from this unfortunate incident and help us implement measures to prevent this from happening again”.