Criminals target secure complexes

Criminals have a new safe haven: secure residential complexes.

According to police, "upper-class criminals" are renting property in expensive security conscious complexes and using these as bases for their nefarious activities.

"When police do patrols in areas they generally concentrate on the streets and do not go into complexes because of high levels of security. We tend only to go in when there has been a complaint," said Captain Piletji Sebola, spokesperson for the Pretoria police.

However, where police had information about criminals in complexes, they would not hesitate to take action, he said.

Sebola said there had been incidents in the past where police had arrested criminals living in secure complexes.

"We got a tip-off which led to the arrest of a man and the confiscation of a variety of electronic equipment," he said of a recent such incident.

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Meanwhile, Talk Radio 702 on Wednesday morning reported that criminals living in secure complexes were not only committing crime outside the confines of such residential areas, but were preying on their neighbours as well.

702 said criminals were attracted to these areas because of the residents' false sense of security.

But Sebola said it was very rare for criminals living in these complexes to target their neighbours.

"This would jeopardise their safe haven and their status in the community," he said.

But the chairperson of the Open City Forum, Nick Karvelas, said there had been incidents where neighbours were targeted.

"We know of a case where a person in a complex in Benoni was burgled, but security was baffled as no one had entered or left the complex at the time," he said.

Karvelas, an ardent opponent of gated-communities, said patrols in residential areas were much better than booms or gates.

"Passing traffic is one of the biggest deterrents to crime. The security at the gates is unaware of what is really happening within the complex," he said.

He said this method being employed by criminals was not new.

"In Brazil, crime kingpins have practically taken control of gated communities."

Karvelas urged people to unite in the fight against crime, rather than "selfishly protecting your own area and cocooning yourselves in".


  • This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on July 20, 2005

Article by: Jillian Green