A member of what is believed to be a group of thieves operating along Jorissen Street was nabbed by Campus Control this past Friday – but despite this victory, crime on and around Wits increased slightly between May and June.

The arrested man was apparently preparing to break into yet another parked car outside Senate House. Campus Control and the orange-jacketed officers of Genesis security have been watching the area closely in the past few months, after Witsies reported valuables going missing  from inside their locked vehicles.

Campus Control investigations, mainly through CCTV cameras pointed at the street, revealed that a group of men, driving a white Toyota Corolla, were using a remote control to jam the signals of car-locking systems. This allowed them to gain access and steal whatever items of value they found.

On Friday, Campus Control officers spotted the Corolla and arrested the driver.

“We found the man in possession of big remote that looked like what was being used to interfere with the locking systems of the cars”, Campus Control Head of Investigations Michael Mahada told Wits Vuvuzela.

The man confessed to the crimes without much coercion. “He could see we knew how he operates.  He said he had sold some of the stuff [stolen from inside the cars] and that he still had some of the other stuff.”

The suspect was handed over to Hillbrow police and was expected to appear in court on Monday or Tuesday.

While these thieves may have been foiled, other crime remains a problem – particularly theft under “false pretences”. According to Head of Campus Control, Rob Kemp, students frequently fall victim to con men who use a number of stories to coax cell phones away from them.

Kemp said the I’ve-lost-my-phone story was still the most popular tactic used by criminals to convince students to hand over their phones, thinking they were helping somebody in need. More bizarre tactics were also used to target students with the latest cellphones, such as Apple i-Phones and Samsung Galaxy phones.

“One guy walks around with a packet of white stuff and offers it to students in exchange for using their cellphones,” Kemp said.

Like the gullible students who took the bait, Campus Control had suspected the substance was cocaine, said Kemp. After it was sent to the police for testing, it was found to be mealie-meal.

More unsettling was Kemp’s estimation that about 50% of arrests this year were of Wits students.

“Students are stealing from each other. It’s worrying that it’s happening in our community.” Kemp said theft of laundry at residences was a frequent occurrence.

As in previous interviews with the Wits Vuvuzela, Kemp stressed that non-students who gained illegal entry were responsible for many of the crimes on campus. Lost or stolen student cards should be reported and blocked, and students should refrain from swiping in non-students.

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