6 break-ins over 6 weekends at Bridgetown centre

Burglars trashed the kitchen.

The Marion Institute at Snowdrop Square in Bridgetown was burgled six times over six consecutive weekends and is now closed due to the extent of the vandalism.

The institute provides indigenous learning and youth and community social development programmes. The break-ins started on Sunday February 20, when burglars ripped 12 basins out of the bathroom and smashed them to pieces. A week later they stole the geyser and removed all the taps in the building, said the institute’s secretary Tania Kleinhans.

They also made holes in the ceiling.

The institute was burgled and vandalised four more times, with holes being made in the ceilings.

During the last break-in, on Sunday March 27, burglars stole a fridge, and two stoves after smashing the back kitchen window to gain access. They also damaged the piano and left a knife lying on the floor in front it. The institute is now closed because it has no ablution facilities, and no fridge to store food, stoves to cook on, or taps to access water, said Ms Kleinhans.

The knife found in front of the piano.

She said that previously the staff had tried to barricade the entrance door with wood and nails and moved heavy items behind the door but burglars still managed to get through. They then placed a pole behind the door to wedge it so that no one could get through which is when burglars broke the kitchen window to get in.

She said she believed the break-ins were orchestrated because the community did not want them there. She also claimed that all six cases they opened at Athlone SAPS had been closed. At the time of publication, SAPS had not yet confirmed this.

But Athlone police station’s spokeswoman, Sergeant Zita Norman, advised the institute to get private security because the police did not have the resources to patrol there 24/7, due to the size of it’s precinct.

“We patrol according to our crime analysis patterns. If it shows that a certain area is being broken into a lot, we increase our patrols there. They should also chat with their neighbourhood watch and community police forum for assistance,” she said.

Ms Kleinhans also claimed that a neighbour who had security cameras refused to let police see the footage captured when the break-ins occurred.

“Upon speaking to the police, they told us that neighbours said they do not want us here and when I spoke to one of the neighbours myself, he said that the break-ins would continue because people still thought that it was a City-owned centre and they had the right to access it. But it is privately owned property which they won’t accept. We keep spending money to fix up and they keep breaking in, it is a financial strain,” she said.

The bathroom was also vandalised.

Ward councillor Rashid Adams, said that he had recently informed residents that the building was owned by the Marion Institute and not the City and that the public had no right to use the building as they pleased.

“I will offer whatever assistance is needed and possible,” he said.