A crime stat is only a crime stat once it has been reported to SAPS.
The papers and social channels are full of reports of ATM fraud, cell phones being snatched while people are waiting for taxis and other opportunistic crimes and yet only a small percentage of these crimes are actually reported.
“A large number of crimes simply go unreported because of the nature of the crime or because of a lack of confidence in the system,” says Charnel Hattingh, National Marketing and Communications Manager at Fidelity ADT.
Hattingh says selective reporting of crime is problematic as it contributes to the dissemination of misinformation around crime, rather than accurate and contextualised information which the SAPS and private security companies can then work on to apprehend suspects.
“No matter how big or small or how insignificant you feel the crime is it needs to be reported. If the suspects are apprehended at a later date there is often no charge as there has been no complainant or case number to attach it to!” says Hattingh.
Here are six reason to report crime:
- It helps with establishing crime trends and provides authorities with invaluable information on how to best allocate resources.
- If a car’s registration number is reported, the SAPS can immediately start tracking the vehicle and carry out stop and search intercepts. The presence of license plate recognition cameras in large parts of the country also means there is a bigger chance that the vehicle can be tracked down, no matter where it goes.
- It helps in understanding both motive and modus operandi of the crime and how crime prevention strategies are being deployed.
- It ensures suspects can be sent to jail once they have been finally apprehended – without a complainant and case number, there is no case.
- It helps the community to better understand and respond to safety issues.
- It can lead to more arrests as your crime could be a critical link to another similar crime and could result in an arrest.
SAPS say many people who get their cell phones snatched while outside waiting for a lift, forget to report the crime at a later stage.
“Understandably,” says Hattingh, “you do not want to get stranded on the side of the road without a phone so you still jump into your ride and go home. That is fine but you need to report the incident once you are safe and in possession of another phone or go to the police station with a friend.”
“A community approach to fighting crime is essential and always pays dividends leading to safer communities. It starts off with a commitment from residents to report crimes accurately and a follow up commitment from SAPS and other influencers in the sector, like the private security industry, to follow up on all leads and react proactively to trends and incidents to reduce crime levels,” concludes Hattingh.