Police: “Keep valuables away from preying eyes”

Some 150 Swakopmund residents gathered on Sunday afternoon to discuss safety, following the recent brutal murders of elderly residents in the town. “It was a successful meeting and I believe we made an impact,” said warrant officer Ileni Shapumba, Erongo community policing affairs officer, to namib times after the event.

According to Shapumba the meeting was called by the police. Initially the idea was to meet with the Neighborhood Watch to discuss the recent rising crime wave. “The public was ahead of us and showed up in numbers”, with which I am satisfied”, he explained.
During the meeting Shapumba shared various general safety tips. “Of course, we condemn the past two incidents where old people were killed. However, we – as the police – cannot have officers stationed on every street. We therefore need to work with the community,” he explained.
“Know your neighbours. Exchange telephone numbers. If some-thing happens, the first person who can assist you is the person staying next to you. We call on the community to get to know the people living around them and create a supportive neighborhood”, he said.
In the same vain Shapumba also called upon the public to make efforts to pre-screen and profile employees, especially domestic workers, before employing them.
Do a background check and profile the person. The person might have a criminal record which you are unaware of. Shapumba added residents should also hide valuables in order to prevent preying eyes. Especially jewelry and money. “Don’t wake sleeping dogs”.
In both recent murder cases, the murder suspects were employed by the victims. “The crimes are pre-meditated. In both cases the employees knew where the valuables were located,” he said. In the first case, which involved the murder of the Strzelecki couple in the beginning of August, the suspects unsuccessfully attempted to crack the safe.
In the second case, involving the murder of Manfred Hartmann last week, the suspects also attempted to open the safe. They also did not succeed, but an alarming fact is these criminals knew where the safes are located and possibly expected that valuables were kept in the safe.
“What is noticeable is that in both cases the suspects were in a posi-tion of trust. It is exactly for this reason residents should keep their belongings, especially items which are very valuable, hidden from their employees.
While sharing these general safety tips Shapumba encouraged the community to be proactive and – by enforcing the above ideas, to prevent such crimes. That is why the police in the Erongo region is planning to host a similar public meeting in Walvis Bay soon. “We want to share these tips with residents of the harbour town too.”
“Walvis Bay and Swakopmund are connected. We need to stand up and fight crime together,” he said. He added that recent brutal murders did not only shock the community of Swakopmund, but the entire country. “People are scared, but let’s be proactive and stick to these basic safety guidelines.”

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