Metro police officer Sergeant Nikie Horn scopes a quiet street in Rondebosch East in Cape Town through his yellow tinted glasses as he drives up and down the neighbourhood.
“The infamous crowbar gangs normally hits houses from 8am to 4pm when most people are at work. It’ll take them anywhere between 15 minutes to one hour to rob a place, depending on what’s happening on the outside,” says Horn.
Horn earned his stripes at the gang and drugs task team in the notorious cape flats where he dealt with homicides, drug dens and gangsterism.
But now Horn has been assigned to a property crime unit full time in the Rondebosch East suburb of Case Town since February 2018 in an attempt to curb house robberies and crime plaguing the area.
The Landsdowne area was hit with more than 400 house robberies in 2017 according to crimestats SA.
“These criminals are doing their observations. You must remember they are people first and then criminals. We need to think like they would think and we need to put something in place that before they even think of robbing, we are prepared for it.”
For the past six months Horn and another metro police colleague have joined forces with local SAPS officers, neighbourhood watch groups, private security firms and CCTV security operations centres to form a collaborative team approach against property crime.
LanRoE Neighbourhood chairperson Abdurrab Ahmed Anwari say the results have been encouraging.
“We need help as we only have a decal on our vehicle, a light on our car for awareness and a torch,” says Horn. “It’s not as if we are going to use martial arts and disarm the criminals. So now we are on WhatsApp groups with all the metro police, SAPS members and the private security firms like Sniper and have direct access to SAPS and metro for information and assistance.”
If this pilot project proves to be successful over the coming months, the city of Cape Town plans to assign another 6 metro police officers as well as a prosecutor to help gain convictions.
“The pilot project, albeit with minimal resources, has achieved good results in terms of the reduction of property crime in the identified areas,” says JP Smith, meyco member for safety and security in the city of Cape Town. “Through integrated policing, information sharing and public awareness programmes, the team has achieved a noticeable reduction in house breaking incidents and stolen motor vehicle recoveries in the area.”
TimesLIVE went out with the property crime unit to see how they operate – watch the video above.
Produced by ANTHONY MOLYNEAUX