The Cape Navigator

Seaside Community Newspaper

Cape Town

Surge in Smash-and-Grab ‘Window Shopping’ Prompts Urgent Call for Greater Vigilance

Michael Hawthorne

The City of Cape Town is grappling with a concerning surge in smash-and-grab incidents along the notorious Jakes Gerwel Drive, with intersections such as Bluegum, Bofors, Jakkalsvlei, and the N2 identified as hotspots. Recent statistics from the Metro Police Strategic Surveillance Unit reveal a notable increase in these crimes, sparking a renewed call for motorists to prioritize their safety.

During November and December in 2023, the Metro Police recorded 36 smash-and-grab incidents along Jakes Gerwel Drive, marking a substantial rise from the 22 incidents reported during the same period the previous year. Moreover, CCTV footage identified 100 instances where individuals appeared to be ‘casing out’ potential targets, compared to 41 instances in 2022.

“The increase in the number of proverbial window shopping incidents is of interest. We know that smash-and-grabs are crimes of opportunity, and the statistics suggest that criminals are not letting up,” commented Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith. “While the opportunities may be decreasing, some motorists are neglecting to take necessary safety measures, openly displaying valuables even during recent awareness drives conducted by our Metro Police Department.”

The City’s efforts to address the issue include awareness drives and patrols in identified hotspots. However, Alderman Smith stressed the importance of individual responsibility: “Our uniformed staff cannot be everywhere at once. Be vigilant at all times, and do not provide criminals with the chance they seek.”

The hot spot intersections along Jakes Gerwel Drive remain a focal point for these incidents, prompting the recent distribution of pamphlets and awareness campaigns. The focus has been on providing tips related to smash-and-grab crimes, road safety, and parent and child safety.

To reduce the risk of falling victim to smash-and-grab incidents, the City of Cape Town advises motorists to keep valuables out of sight, lock all doors and close windows, and remain cautious and vigilant of their surroundings. Motorists are also urged to be wary of people loitering at intersections and to report any suspicious activity.

Alderman Smith concluded, “Smash-and-grab incidents deprive people of their hard-earned possessions and cause unnecessary trauma. Motorists must take proactive measures to ensure their safety, contributing to the collective effort to curb these opportunistic crimes.”

In the event of a smash-and-grab incident, citizens are encouraged to report the crime to the nearest police station or contact the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre at 021 480 7700 from a cellphone or 107 from a landline. The City of Cape Town remains committed to collaborative efforts to combat smash-and-grab crimes and enhance the overall safety of its residents.


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