Crime spike in Claremont, warn cops

Greater Lynfrae Civic Association chairwoman Madeline Sweeney.

Police have warned of rising crime in Claremont that they say is largely linked to a homeless camp in Palmyra Road.

Speaking at the Greater Lynfrae Civic Association’s (GLCA) annual general meeting, Claremont police Vispol commander Lieutenant Colonel Marnus Fourie said common robberies were up more than 100% from last year and theft out of motor vehicles had also increased.

Lieutenant Colonel Fourie told residents at the meeting at Claremont Primary School hall last Wednesday, that the increased number of homeless people in the area, particularly those at the makeshift settlement in Palmyra Road, had contributed to this increase.

“Palmyra Road is the major concern regarding crime in the Claremont area. Not all homeless persons are criminals, but more than 90% of the criminals we arrest are living at Palmyra Road. There is a reason crimes are most prevalent around informal settlements. Drug usage and substance abuse are a major contributor to the homeless committing crime,” he said.

Most of the suspects they arrested for common robberies or opportunistic crimes were homeless, he said.

“Almost all of the persons we arrest for common robberies are homeless persons. The most common things that are being stolen are cellphones, which are easily sold in Athlone and Wynberg, and wallets containing cash and bank cards, which are later used at bottle stores.”

Theft out of motor vehicles, especially in Stegmann Road, Draper Road and Dreyer Street, was also a concern. He said the limited parking in Claremont also played a role with many vehicles parked overnight in the streets.

“Theft out of motor vehicles used to only take place at night, but it is now all times of the day – by the homeless. Also Newlands Forest, where vagrants are now erecting structures in the forest and committing robberies and theft out of motor vehicles in the adjacent areas,” Lieutenant Colonel Fourie said.

The number of recorded known homeless people had increased from 33 pre-Covid to about 350, he said.

“People in Claremont are very giving, and this could be to the detriment of their neighbour,” Lieutenant Colonel Fourie said.

He encouraged residents to take part in the neighbourhood watch, saying they played a big role in reducing crime.

“When crime is low – like it was during lockdown, people tend to lose interest in neighbourhood watches. But we need as many eyes and ears as we can get,” he said.

During her report GLCA chairwoman Madeline Sweeney reflected on the past year, saying they had for the first time in a while ended the year with a positive bank balance. She said the two markets they held at Keurboom Park had been a success with a profit of R51 000.

“The market and paid-up members leave us with a positive bank balance of more than R60 000,” she said.

Ms Sweeney encouraged residents to spread awareness of the association.

“We currently have 122 paid-up members, but there are 2 000 households in this area,” she said.

Derek Bluck, chairman of Harlyn Neighborhood Watch, said they had 30 licence-plate-recognition cameras and about 1 000 overview cameras between sector one and four.

“We spent R60 000 last year to get our own server up and running. This allows for 24-hour monitoring and access to footage,” he said.

Mr Bluck said cameras and beams added an extra layer of security but were not the answer to all crime, and he encouraged residents to be aware of their surroundings at all times.

Ward councillor Kate Christie called on residents to give responsibly, echoing the sentiments of Lieutenant Colonel Fourie.

She said the City could not evict anyone without an eviction order and the City had 600 eviction cases pending.

Derek Bluck, chairman of Harlyn Neighborhood Watch.
Ward 58 councillor Kate Christie.