Smash-and-grab hot spot

Suspects move in on a stationary car at the intersection. Seconds later, they run away with a handbag.

The authorities have warned motorists of frequent smash-and-grabs on the corner of Voortrekker Road and Jakes Gerwel Drive, in Goodwood.

About 80 cases have been reported to the police in the space of a year and there were 24 cases in March alone, according to the City of Cape Town.

The alarm about smash-and-grabs on that corner was first raised at a Goodwood SAPS Sector 1 meeting in mid-March (“Cops warn of smash-and-grab hot spot,” Athlone News, March 29), but that meeting only referred to 19 cases reported since August last year, suggesting a disconnect between SAPS and City data.

SAPS, however acknowledged that cases were going unreported.

In a statement last week, JP Smith, the City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, said most of the attacks happened between 6pm and midnight on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

CCTV footage, seen at a Goodwood SAPS Sector 1 meeting on Monday May 15 and released by the City the next day, shows two men walking on the road island at the intersection.

In the clip from just before 10pm on Saturday April 9, one man loiters on the island while another in a black hoodie draws close to a car at the traffic lights.

He appears to smash the passenger window before running across the road into nearby Maitland cemetery.

“Unfortunately the proximity to the Maitland cemetery means that the criminals have somewhere to run and hide,” Mr Smith said.

A budget had been made available to fix the cemetery’s broken fence “as soon as possible”, and the City was doing more CCTV surveillance of the area and passing on the footage to SAPS detectives, said Mr Smith.

Meanwhile, Goodwood SAPS will launch the two-day “Project Smash” tomorrow, Thursday May 25, to warn motorists about the hot spot.

“These suspects are unknown and according to information they hide in the cemetery or nearby bushes,” said acting station commander Hennie Rademeyer.

A police officer speaking at Monday’s meeting said many of the smash-and-grab victims were women. On Saturday May 6, it was Alison Alexander’s turn. The house mother at Rainbow of Hope, a Goodwood safe house for children, had pulled up at traffic lights opposite Langa in Jakes Gerwel Drive when a brick shattered her front passenger window. It was the middle of the day.

Within seconds her handbag on the front seat next to her was gone.

“They’re so brazen, they don’t even run fast,” she said. The robbers had worked together, one had smashed the window while the other had gone for her bag.

Ms Alexander said she had gone to the Goodwood police station to swear an affidavit about what had happened, but she had decided to not open a case as her car was not insured.

“You must be aware of your surroundings and put your bag under the seat or in the boot of the car,” she warned.

Mr Smith also asked drivers to keep valuables out of sight. “Despite widespread awareness campaigns, we still see far too many people driving with bags on passenger seats or cellphones in plain sight.”

According to the City, other hot spots are the intersections of 35th Avenue and Owen Road in Elsies River as well as 35th Avenue and Robert Sobukwe Road in Bishop Lavis. These intersections are often used by motorists bound for the airport.