Shortcut to robbery – Town Hall Park

Woodstock residents are being urged to help create a safer environment at the park at the town hall. John Julies, operations manager of the Woodstock Improvement District (WID), says crime has recently escalated in this park next to Woodstock Hall, with five incidents reported since last month.

He says these incidents include two armed robberies in which the victims were robbed at knife point. “Despite these incidents, WID is confident that the park will once again be a safer place and urge all community members to partner with us and authorities.

“Report any suspicious activity to the WID 24/7 control room on 021 462 1205 or email info@wid.co.za. Contact WID if you have been affected by crime in this area,” he says. He says these robberies mostly happen in the early hours of the morning and late afternoons when people are going to and from work using the park as a shortcut.

Julies says there are ongoing security and cleansing operations in recreational areas in the area and WID has also stationed two security officers in the park to be visible until the criminal activities subside. Julies warns residents to not take shortcuts through the park. “Many of them are dressed well and might look harmless, but neat clothing is not a guarantee that they won’t harm you. Be vigilant of everyone who crosses your path,” warns Julies.

Another WID member, Chris Lloyd, says residents must not have their valuables out in plain sight and avoid texting while walking or put on headphones. He says they are working with the police to patrol the area on a daily basis.

One resident, Shae Leigh, says though she has not been a victim herself she has heard about the complaints and is glad the WID is taking action to fight crime. This is the third park in the area that is reportedly unsafe, following People’s Post’s report on two other parks (“Kids spoil dog’s walk”, 20 June).

Woodstock police spokesperson Sergeant Hilton Malila says officers make random visits to the site next to the community park and have noticed there are makeshift structures built on the site. He says they have received reports of alcohol abuse by the people occupying the open space at the park.

“The area is not problematic with criminal incidents, but alcohol abuse is the only thing that is occurring there. “During our scheduled daily operations, the site is visited and people found on the premises are checked out and fingerprinted to verify if they are not wanted. We, however, will keep on monitoring the site to make sure that no criminal activities are taking place.

“We also want to urge the community to report all illegal activities to Woodstock Police Station on 021 442 3117,” Malila says.

Originally published on People’s Post here.

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