Crime stats: The good, bad and ugly

House robbery, business robbery and truck hijacking increased between April and September this year, the police announced in Pretoria on Thursday. House robbery rose by 7%, business robbery by 29,3%, and truck hijacking by 53,3%.

There were 6 711 house robberies in the six months from April to September, up from 6 271 over the same period last year, the police said.

Most were in the Free State, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga, with the least in the Northern Cape and Gauteng.

It seemed some of the operations and initiatives taken in Gauteng and certain other provinces were starting to pay off, said police crime information management head Dr Chris de Kock.

In its report on the latest trends, the police said house robbers operated mainly in small groups, usually struck at night and normally held up their victims with firearms.

In most cases, their first contact with their victims was in their homes after they had gained forced entry.

The items most frequently taken were: cellphones, money, DVD players, clothes, jewellery, televisions, and sound systems, followed by vehicles.

Money was also the most frequently targeted item in business robberies, the study found.
Business robberies went up from 3 433 in 2006 to 4 438 between April and September this year, with 2 007 between April and June, and 2 431 from July to September.

Crime increased in all provinces, but mainly in Limpopo, where it went up by 190,7%, from 43 cases to 125 cases.

The increase was the lowest in Gauteng, at 2,6%, where the number of business robberies went up from 3 433 cases in 2006 to 4 438 in the same six months of this year.

“When people think about business robberies, they usually think of large groups of heavily-armed men ‘attacking’ shopping centres and malls,” the report noted.

“Such incidents do indeed occur, but account for only a small proportion of business robberies.”

By far the largest number of business robberies affected medium to small factories and conventional shops in central business districts and suburban areas, the report found.

The items targeted were cash, followed by cellphones, food, alcohol and cigarettes, and jewellery.

Organised crimes

Freight was the target of truck hijackers, said De Kock.

The number of truck hijackings rose from 390 in 2006 to 598 in 2007, but was still nowhere near the high of 1 895 in the same six month period in 2001.

De Kock cautioned that there was such a big increase because the number of incidents was so low.

Any increase or decrease would result in a very significant percentage.

“So the 53,3% increase is a low figure compared with cash-in-transit heists and bank robberies,” he said.

De Kock said truck hijacking was one of the most organised crimes in the country and involved lots of people in different roles.

“When a group of truck hijackers forms, they will regularly commit this crime and that will generate numerous cases which will push the percentages up dramatically.

“When they are apprehended and successfully prosecuted, this may have an equally dramatic downward influence on the figures,” the report noted.

According to the police statistics, murder, rape, attempted murder, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, common assault, aggravated robbery and common robbery decreased over the six months.

Murder went down by 6,6%, rape by 3,6%, attempted murder by 7,6%, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm by 2,8%, common assault by 5,1%, aggravated robbery by 9,7% and common robbery by 12,3%.

The only contact crime that had increased was indecent assault, which went up by 3,5%, a rise attributed to increased reporting of the crime. - Sapa

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