Police must share crime reports

WITH the holiday season now in full swing, we can expect an increase in crime too, especially the opportunistic crimes that happen when holidaymakers are lax about security and leave doors open or valuables lying around.

There will also be a spike in alcohol-related crimes as seasonal overindulgence leads to drunk driving, drunk and disorderly behaviour and even assault and rape.

While many of these crimes are regarded as low-profile and details about them are not shared with the media, we hope the police will be more transparent about incidents over the festive season, especially when making them public could possibly prevent similar things happening to other people.

We also want to hear about police successes, when suspects are arrested and investigations are completed.

It is unfortunate that too often information about crimes is not volunteered by the police, but they only respond when we ask them questions based on information we have received from other sources.

One such incident, which the police should have been happy to share, was the arrest of a suspect in a mugging incident in Kenton-on-Sea in August. It is encouraging that even three months after the crime, police were able to trace a stolen cellphone and make an arrest.

On a more troubling note, there was a serious incident at a secluded picnic spot along the Kowie River, north of Centenary Park, last Friday.

The police have not told us about this incident, but we have asked for an official report after being approached by a member of the public.

A group of four picnickers travelled by boat to the picnic spot, deliberately avoiding Centenary Park because of its notoriety as a mugging hotspot.

Soon after they arrived they were accosted by a dozen men armed with knives and the picnickers fled in their boat, leaving behind cash, cellphones and other valuables.

The irony is that just 300m away, further down the river, a group of police officers were having an end-of-year braai. Imagine if the robbers had tried their luck with that group!

One of the victims, still traumatised after what happened, said the public needed to be made aware of the risk of going for a picnic in that area.

Nevertheless, it is sad that we may be reduced to avoiding picturesque public areas because they have been taken over by criminals and police lack the resources to patrol those areas.

With a new media liaison officer having been appointed at the Port Alfred police station last week, we hope to receive reports like this as a matter of course, along with accompanying warnings to the public and updates on the progress of investigations.

– Jon Houzet

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