New police unit targets shoplifters

Claremont police station commander Colonel Maree Louw.

Police are planning to set up a special unit to combat shoplifting in Kenilworth and Claremont.

A team of four officers with two vehicles will deal with shoplifters preying on Kenilworth Centre, Access Park and Cavendish Square, according to Captain Deon Bock, of Claremont police, who spoke at a meeting last week with the neighbourhood watch, the community police forum and community improvement districts to discuss crime patterns in the area over the past three months.

Claremont police station commander Colonel Maree Louw said the unit – to be based at Claremont – was a necessary because shoplifting was a priority crime in the area. 

“Once we have the resources ready, we will have that unit up and running,” she said.

According to Colonel Louw, 401 shoplifting cases at the three main shopping centres in the area were reported from April last year till March this year. There were 373 shoplifting cases over the same period for the previous year.

Jan van Zyl, from Kenilworth Centre’s security unit, said his team was becoming more proactive when suspicious-looking people entered the mall and the team liaised over a WhatsApp group about potential threats.

Cavendish Square centre manger Faizah Behardien said she was thrilled with the plan for the unit, saying it would help the mall create “a seamless and safe shopping experience”.

Access Park security manager Bilal Sheik said he was keen to see how the new shoplifting unit would work and whether it would improve police response times.

“The law on shoplifting is shocking, some of them get slapped with a R200 fine and then the next day they are out on bail,” he said.