Booze, cigarettes, toilet seats nicked in 136 Gauteng police station break-ins
Computer equipment, food and reflector jackets also stolen
You would think a police station is one of the safest places, but the latest figures show in Gauteng they are not spared from crime.
Brazen criminals have broken into the province’s police stations 136 times in the past five years alone, making off with an assortment of items.
This startling number was revealed by provincial community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko in a response to questions posed by the DA.
However, not all the province’s police stations have been breeding grounds for crime.
Mazibuko said 29 stations accounted for the break-ins. The Evaton and Vosloorus police stations were the hardest hit with 16 break-ins each over the last five years.
Pretoria Central police station followed with 13 break-ins followed by Dobsonville, which recorded 10.
DA Gauteng shadow MEC for community safety Michael Shackleton said it was concerning that community members put their trust in the hands of law enforcers, but the police were seemingly failing to protect their own property.
When police stations fall victim to crime, it compromises the ability of officers to conduct their business of ensuring the safety of residents through regular patrolling, opening of cases and response to emergenciesDA Gauteng shadow MEC for community safety Michael Shackleton
“The DA in Gauteng is appalled that the police service is unable to safeguard its own premises but is mandated to see to the safety of our residents,” said Shackleton.
“Police stations are regarded by communities as a safe place where police officers prevent, combat and investigate crime while protecting and ensuring the safety of all residents.
“When police stations fall victim to crime, it compromises the ability of officers to conduct their business of ensuring the safety of residents through regular patrolling, opening of cases and response to emergencies.”
What was even more concerning, said Shackleton, was that the criminals behind these break-ins were almost never caught.
“Of the cases opened, only 41 arrests have been made with four resulting in convictions,” he said.
Mazibuko revealed that the 136 break-ins had resulted in the theft of items worth about R1.6m.
The items stolen include laptops and computers, cameras, office furniture and television sets.
During three break-ins, three guns were stolen.
In other instances, reflector jackets, blue lights and other police regalia were taken.
At some police stations, items that could be used for break-ins, such as grinders, hammers, welding materials, ladders and tool boxes, were also stolen.
Toilet seats, toilet paper, keys, mops, brooms and Comrades Marathon medals were among the odd items stolen.
In one instance, a fridge in a station was emptied.
At another station, it was not immediately clear what had been taken as the criminals set the office alight after the break-in.
In several cases, confiscated alcohol, cigarettes and cash were taken.
In very few cases, dockets and files were stolen.
Mazibuko dismissed suspicions that “inside jobs” might have led to the crimes.
She said none of those arrested in connection with the crimes were police officers.
On a positive note, some stolen items were recovered.