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Help police fight crime

Posted : 20 June 2013
POSTING about crime and suspicious activities on social networks instead of reporting these incidents to authorities has become a concern for police and crime prevention forums.

When crime and suspicious activities are not reported, this affects crime statistics, making it harder for police, crime forums and security companies to identify problem areas.

According to SAPS spokeswoman Sandra Janse van Rensburg, “Criminals monitor Facebook and change cars if their number plates have been posted on a group.”

Janse van Rensburg said that it was a problem when incidents were not reported. Police work on crime analysis on a monthly basis and the statistics might not be a true reflection of the crime in the area.

“We won’t know which are the problematic areas,” Janse van Rensburg said, adding that more information would lead to the police knowing where to focus their patrol vehicles.

She emphasised that the public should refrain from posting “hearsay” on social networking sites.

“There was an incident when someone posted that a woman was raped, which was untrue. It created unnecessary panic.”

A request to the public was recently posted on the Crime Awareness Campaign Port Elizabeth page, pleading with people to report crime to police or to their security companies before going the route of posting on social media pages.

The administrator, known just as Cindy, said there were several instances when people were, for various reasons, too scared to report a crime themselves. They contacted her and she then contacted the relevant SAPS member.

Honorary president of Farm Comm Willie Bosch said they knew about some of the Facebook pages, but they never used them as they were not “fruitful”.

“If you don’t report the smallest of crimes, even if it is a stolen gate, the police will use their manpower elsewhere.”

According to Business Against Crime Eastern Cape managing director Bryan Howard, social networking serves the purpose of informing others of an event within minutes, and hours. However, any and all crimes (and attempted crimes) should be reported to the police.

He said it was not always necessary to physically go to one’s nearest police station to report crime.

“In fact, most SAPS stations are prepared to send an officer to one’s place of business or home, to take down a statement and open a docket,” Howard said.

He added that citizens were constantly being encouraged to become members of their local Neighbourhood Watch, or Sector Crime Sub-Forum, to obtain up-to-date information on crime trends in their neighbourhoods, and to assist the police in their attempts to reduce crime. “A phone call to the nearest police station will provide all the necessary information pertaining to such Forums,” Howard said. – additional reporting by Darryn Wood

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