Crime down at UCT despite surge in precinct

28 August 2006

Statistics released to Council by Properties and Services' risk management team show that crime on campus has dropped from 100 incidents a month in April 2001, when crime peaked, to less than 30 in July 2006.

These crimes exclude trespassing and cell phone thefts. The latest statistics do include serious incidents like the attack on Professor Mino Caira (chemistry) in the PD Hahn Building last month, and are set against an environment fraught by the three-month security industry strike.

This reduced Campus Protection Services' (CPS) manpower by 35%. The staff who were able to report for work were strategically placed at vulnerable spots around campus.

Thanks go to our security team and to security management who played a big part in maintaining low levels of crime on campus.

Although crime continues to rise in the areas around campus as criminals are "pushed" out of the central business districts by additional policing and closed-circuit television cameras, the crime figures for UCT's campus have been declining steadily since 2001.

"The external environment has been a lot more volatile than anything we're seeing at UCT," Properties and Services' executive director John Critien said.

In an incident earlier this month, a woman was attacked by six suspects near the intersection of Main Road and Woolsack Drive at 20h35 and robbed of her Nokia phone and cash. Although the robbery was not on campus, CPS staff monitoring closed-circuit television footage saw the attack.

They pursued and arrested the perpetrators, later handing them to the police. They have been commended for their vigilance and swift action.

Two of the robbers were out on bail for serious crime: attempted murder and car hijacking.

A scan of the crime report for July and August shows that robberies, armed and unarmed, all off-campus, happened at night while the victims were walking along Main Road between Mowbray and Rondebosch.

CPS have repeatedly warned students and staff not to walk along the Main Road alone at night. Staff are warned to be vigilant when leaving and returning home as car hijackings have increased in the precinct.

Theft from residences remains a concern, despite continuous crime awareness campaigns. Students appear to be negligent when it comes to locking rooms and windows. Some are allowing unknown guests into the buildings without taking responsibility for them.

Theft from cars has also increased in the neighbourhood, although the figure remains low on campus compared with SAPS figures for the area. For example, there were two car thefts on campus in June compared with 23 reported for the Rondebosch area in the same month.

UCT is investigating the establishment of a civic improvement district in Rondebosch, part of a "crime and grime" civic campaign to provide additional security and cleaning services to certain high-thoroughfare areas. A similar campaign was successfully launched in the Claremont CBD.

Critien said there are plans to release information on crime hotspots on the UCT website in the near future.

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