2008-10-24 : 'Robbers becoming more violent'

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2008-10-24 : 'Robbers becoming more violent'

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2008-10-24 12:20

'Robbers becoming more violent'
Graeme Hosken
October 24 2008 at 07:11AM

South Africa's house robbers are becoming more violent as attacks against
homeowners escalate.

This was the message from University of South Africa crime researcher, Dr
Rudolph Zinn when he spoke in Pretoria on Thursday.

Zinn has recently finished a report on the profiling of house robbers, which
is expected to save thousands of South Africans.

Zinn interviewed 30 prisoners in six Gauteng prisons for house robbery, a
sub-category of robbery with aggravating circumstances.

The 30 are incarcerated in Pretoria Central, Zonderwater, Baviaanspoort,
Modder B, Leeukop and Johannesburg prisons.

Between the 2002-2003 and 2006-2007 financial years, house robberies
increased by 29 percent, with 12 761 attacks occurring in the 2006/07
financial year. "Between the 2006/07 and 2007/08 financial years, these
attacks increased by 25 percent, with 40 house robberies occurring every day
in South Africa, 20 of them in Gauteng."

The study, which is backed up by the police who have conducted similar
research, revealed that those interviewed had, in total committed 2 099
crimes, with 20 of the offenders admitting they were involved in 2 051
crimes which they had yet to be convicted for.

Zinn said 83 percent of those surveyed were South Africans, aged between 19
and 26, with 76 percent of them having left school between Grade 8 and Grade

"Although 70 percent of those were unemployed when caught, many previously
had had jobs but had quit because they made more money through crime."

The study showed offenders targeted all areas regardless of whether the
suburbs were affluent or not. "As long as they believe they can make 'a
quick' buck they will 'hit' the house."

The study revealed a huge element of greed behind house robberies, with only
35 percent of house robbers committing these crimes for survival, while the
remainder would squander it on flashy cars, houses and clothes.

On average, house robbers will commit 103 crimes over more than seven years,
before they are caught for the first time, with 22 percent of them also
committing farm attacks.

"These attacks are not politically motivated, but are carried out for
various reasons, including that a farm is a soft target."

The study also shows that house robbers are extremely violent, with 97
percent using firearms in the attacks, and 30 percent committing murder, 13
percent raping and torturing their victims.

"Torture, which involves anything from molten plastic to boiling water and
hot irons, is carried out, especially against women and children, to ensure
that the homeowner hands over all of his valuables such as cash and

Zinn said the fight against house robberies was not being won because police
were not gathering intelligence from convicted house robbers as was done by
their international counterparts on things such as modus operandi.

He said the study showed that 80 percent of those involved in such crimes
did not have prior military training and that attacks occurred between 10
and 30 minutes drive away from where the robbers lived.

About 77 percent of the attacks were based on inside information gained from
employees at the homes, with the majority of the attacks taking place
between 7pm and midnight.

He said the level of security at the houses did not matter, as only 25
percent of attacks took place in neighbourhoods with poor security measures.

"When those involved in the attacks see a house with high security measures
they know that something valuable is being kept inside and want it."

He said offenders revealed the biggest deterrent to house robbers was dogs,
especially small dogs who made lots of noise, razor wire security fences,
CCTV cameras, early warning security beams and lights and houses which were
relatively open in which neighbours could see if an attack was taking place.

This article was originally published on page 2 of Pretoria News on October 24, 2008
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