Five days after a Milnerton man’s car was stolen outside a traffic-department building, someone claiming to be a cop phoned him offering to get it back for R2 000.
Steven Beattie has lashed out at the Milnerton traffic department for not warning the public about high crime in the spot where his car was stolen, and he has called the police’s handling of the case “pathetic”.
He also wants to know how the caller who asked him for money to get his car back got his personal information.
Mr Beattie left his locked car in a parking bay on Pienaar Road, about 30 metres from the entrance to the Milnerton traffic department, on Wednesday June 20, at 10.30am, and went inside to renew his licence. He came out an hour later with a renewed licence but no car.
He said it was a shock that his car could be stolen just metres from a City of Cape Town traffic centre, but what surprised him even more was the response from the centre’s manager.
“The manager showed zero empathy to my situation and just shrugged and said that it wasn’t the first time this had happened. He said that the day before, a car was stolen from the same parking area,” said Mr Beattie.
He reported his car stolen that same day at about noon. “At 8pm that night, I hadn’t heard from SAPS, so I had to call them. And they told me my case number over the phone. Why should I have to contact them for that information? Shouldn’t they be sending me an SMS with my case number?”
When Tabletalk sent questions to the City of Cape Town, Jyothi Naidoo, from the media office, sent responses attributed to “the City of Cape Town” but not to any particular official.
The City said that like any other public area, motorists parking near the traffic centre did so at their own risk. “It is normal practice to have disclaimers at all our buildings and on our premises like any other public facility, such as shopping malls.
“The City is in the process of replacing old and damaged signage at our facilities. Of late, a number of signs have been stolen, especially for the poles they are mounted on, or, in some instances, it is just vandalism.”
Milnerton police spokeswoman Captain Nopaya Madyibi confirmed the area near the traffic centre was a crime hot spot. But she didn’t respond to our request for information on the exact number and types of crime in the area.
“We request the public to be extra cautious when parking their cars. The City of Cape Town was notified of the problem and they also take steps to secure the area.”
She didn’t say what those steps were. But Ward 4 councillor Wandisile Ngeyi said it was news to him that there was a crime problem in that area.
“Something has to be done about it. I will be in contact with Milnerton CPF, the MCRA (Milnerton Central Residents’ Association) and Milnerton SAPS to see what measures can be taken to solve this issue. We can’t have Milnerton as a target for criminals,” he said.
Mr Ngeyi said there was a need for a neighbourhood watch in the area.
Mr Beattie is a tutor; his car is his bread and butter as he needs it to get to his clients.
He said that in the week after the theft of his car, the police had sent him an SMS saying they were investigating but had made no other effort to contact him.
“This is pathetic, and I don’t even know if they got the footage from the licensing department. Instead con artist criminals phoned me on Monday (June 25) claiming to be from the police saying they recovered my car and they need R2 000.
“They have all my personal details, so either the licensing department, the police or both are corrupt and leaked all my details to them.
“Criminals now have all my details and knew everything, and I am worried about identity theft. The police are useless and have let us down,” he said.
Mr Beattie said the police eventually paid him a visit on Friday June 29 and showed him footage of another car theft at the same place.