Despite several car guards operating in the central business district (CBD) of Windhoek an upsurge in car break-ins has been recorded at Zoo Park along Independence Avenue.
This has raised a concern among small business operators such as photographers stationed at or near Zoo Park. Not only are they losing clients they are being accused of being in cahoots with car burglars.
According to statistics from the City Police, between February 12 and April 1 a total of 159 car break-ins were reported in what appeared to be well-orchestrated hit-and-runs.
“These guys will electronically jam your car door and steal whatever is available and valuable in the car. On days when they are really desperate and the car jamming thing does not work out they simply smash the car windows,” explained *Elias Shaanika (not his real name as he feared possible reprisals).
The thieves and robbers allegedly walk in groups of four or five moving swiftly from car to car jamming vehicles parked at Zoo Park and the municipal headquarters’ parking lots, according to Shaanika.
The photographers and car guards have noticed that the incidents of car break-ins and daylight robberies are more frequent than ever before and it is now affecting their moneymaking efforts. “Customers don’t want to work with us because they now blame us for the break-ins,” said Shaanika.
Shaanika said the issue is getting way out of hand. He explained the car break-ins, daylight robberies and intimidation of members of the public, mostly tourists, also occur over weekends.
“Since we are here everyday they know us. When they take things from the cars, they threaten us that they will come and stab us. This is affecting our business, as car owners and those that come to the park think that we are working together with these guys,” said a very concerned Shaanika.
“I suggest they put up functional cameras or maybe carry out patrols because it is getting out of control,” noted Shaanika.
One of the car guards who also opted to stay anonymous said the robbers mostly target tourists.
“They would approach the foreigners pretending to be undercover police officers requesting to see their travelling documents, hoping to get paid,” said the guard, adding that if that does not work they forcefully rob them.
Asked why they do not interfere when they see a robbery taking place, the guard said they only guard vehicles on the customer’s request. “These guys have threatened us if we ever report them to the car owners. We are very afraid of being stabbed by these people,” said the guard.
He also revealed they have on numerous occasions called the City Police but either they are late or they simply never show up, according to him.
Responding to queries sent to the City Police, the public relations officer Edmund Khoaseb said that theft out of motor vehicles has reduced significantly in Windhoek, especially at Zoo Park along Independence Avenue.
“Last year we had a real concern of cars broken into and properties stolen at Zoo Park but through some aggressive policing we were able to bring that number down to zero cases reported.
“All in all, we were able to reduce theft out of motor vehicles in Windhoek, and during the period of 26 March to 1 April 2018 only 12 cases were reported,” said Khoaseb.
City Police is urging the public to take cautionary measures such as locking away all valuables in the boot of the vehicle before driving; when using a remote to lock the car, manually check whether the doors are locked and if they are not, there may be someone trying to block the remote signals; and approach any intersection with caution to look out for people loitering in the vicinity.