Pretoria – Brooklyn police have urged residents to take extra steps to protect their wheels after a rash of bike thefts in Pretoria east in recent weeks.
According to Captain Colette Weilbach, they had been experiencing an increase of bicycle theft during burglaries.
“Recently bicycle owners discovered that their wheels were stolen during the night from their garages or storerooms. These crimes frequently occurred in Menlo Park and Erasmuskloof,” Weilbach said.
Management at Hot Spot Cycles bicycle shop in Atterbury said although the crime was nothing new, they had seen a spike in insurance claims at their Pretoria branch, especially since alert level 2 of the lockdown.
A customer recently claimed for two high-end bicycles to the tune of R300 000. Other claims ranged from R10 000 and above. “It’s not new, but it’s becoming more and more prevalent,” the management said.
In Menlo Park, Bruce Reyneke Cycles manager also said the crime was not peculiar, but had its seasons.
He said it did spike closer to December. “It’s been happening especially at Fort Klapperkop and in Groenkloof, so it’s really nothing new.
“I think what is more alarming is that people will burgle a house mainly for a bike, which means they are in demand,” he said.
At times, according to him, it could be a syndicate. Asked what the robbers do with the bicycles, he said: “Well, they simply resell them, or even dismantle them and sell the parts separately.”
Police said proving a bicycle was stolen in the absence of documented serial numbers was difficult.
“Take photos of the bicycle, record the serial number and keep it in a safe place. Sometimes the police recover suspected stolen bicycles and this will enable the police to get the bicycle back to its rightful owner,” said Weilbach.
She said criminals often found easier access to garages and outside buildings in comparison to the main house because of a lack of proper security measures.
“Always keep garages and outside buildings locked up. Fit strong padlocks to outbuilding doors and install burglar-proof bars at windows. Do not leave a garage open for the whole day so that passers-by can observe the contents,” Weilbach said.
It is also recommended that the alarm of the main house be linked to the garage and other outside buildings.
“Always use a good-quality lock to make it more difficult and time-consuming for thieves to steal a bicycle. Try to lock bicycles to immovable objects at home to prevent thefts.”
Anti-crime and social activist Yusuf Abramjee said this type of crime had become common, mainly targeting people who were cycling, jogging, exercising or walking.
The Pedal Power Association, the largest recreational cycling organisation in the country, said it had seen an increase in attacks on cyclists. “There’s been a big increase, and it appears to be knowledge out there that bicycles are also worth money,” said chairperson of the organisation, Steve Hayward.
He said cyclists had become easy targets, and they had since been urged to cycle in groups.
Comrades Marathon legend Nick Bester recently fell victim to bicycle crime. He was badly assaulted by criminals who made off with his bicycle.
Specialist serious violent and economic crime investigator Mike Bolhuis said there was a R50 000 reward for information that could lead to the successful prosecution of the three assailants.
Meanwhile, police also said criminals had set their sights on Nissan NP200 bakkies, Toyotas, Volkswagen Polos and Renaults in Brooklyn.
According to Weilbach, most of the vehicles were stolen in broad daylight, mostly on Fridays and Saturdays. Weilbach said car thieves often scout parking areas at shopping centres, smaller businesses, residential areas, schools and churches for the type of vehicle they want to steal.
Brooklyn police station commander Brigadier Kushie Pietersen said additional high-visibility patrols had been put in place in an effort to prevent vehicle-related crimes and arrest the perpetrators.