By Marianne Ngidhengwa
THE City Police have recorded 650 cases of theft from vehicles during January and May, especially in residential areas, with handbags, laptops, cellphones and money being stolen from parked cars.
“We have observed an increase of such crimes picking up in residential areas and neighbourhoods, adjacent to riverbeds and bushy areas. Anything left on a car seat, for instance, can get a vehicle broken into,” City Police spokesperson Cillie Auala confirmed to Confidente this week.
She has also revealed a new trend, which sees victims being followed to and from banks and ATMs.
“This is a new trend we have picked up. They (the thieves) are now following their victims, who have withdrawn large sums of money from the bank or from ATM machines. They hang around in banks and at ATM machines, looking for victims,” Auala said.
“After they spot someone, they follow that person and grab the money.”
Auala said one such case resulted in a victim losing N$20 000, after being followed from a bank.
She advised the public to be mindful of their surroundings, in order to avoid such crimes from happening.
“People are being followed from banks and other financial institutions, so be mindful of your surroundings and people around you.”
Auala also confirmed that car break-ins were on the rise this year, after 647 cases were reported between January and May last year.
Last week, the Namibian police, with the help of the City Police, arrested two notorious gangs, known for theft out of motor vehicles in Windhoek.
The net finally closed in on the gangs, who were previously under surveillance.
The alleged gang members include Sevelus Nangombe (19), Jesaya Kayambu (33) and Johannes Shikongo (25), who belong to one grouping.
The second group includes John ‘Zuma’ Nendongo, Kamhulu Benisias and Petrus Ndaningina, who are all below the age of 30.
They were each charged with defeating and obstructing the course of justice and attempted robbery. The majority of the suspects are repeat offenders and known to police.
Police sources said this week that the city centre, shopping malls and parking areas are common locations, where gangs operate. They are often denied entry to busy shopping malls around town, because they are well-known for their crime sprees.
“Apart from stealing from motor vehicles, these guys are also well-known for grabbing valuable items from their targets. In fact they are denied entry at most busy shopping malls, because of their crimes. They use various tricks to steal from people,” a police source said.
Their modus operandi has also evolved, as they are now operating at traffic lights, where one gang member distracts a driver by giving them pamphlets or informing them that a tyre is flat, while two others smash a car window and grab valuable items, before running away.
“Theft from motor vehicles is a crime of opportunity. Don’t leave anything in your car. Thieves will smash the window and steal whatever they can see. It’s not just valuables they take; it’s anything, including USBs,” said Auala.
“People assume that just because car doors are locked, the car is safe. They use hammers that shatter the glass really easily, and don’t make much noise. Also make sure that your car is locked. Often they wait until you park your car and jam the alarm system. Touch the door handle to make sure that the car is locked.”
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015