We can call the criminals of South Africa all the names under the sun. But a majority of them are cunning, and usually adapt to their situations. When load shedding is enforced, these crooks are only emboldened while the rest of us are made more vulnerable – and regular power cuts have ‘fostered’ a new technique for burglars.

Martin Kriel is an expert from ADT Security. During a recent interview on SABC, he elaborated on what is a pretty diabolical bit of planning from our evolving criminal class.

How load shedding has created a new burglary technique

He says that groups will often trip the electrics, just minutes before load shedding is scheduled to take place, so people believe nothing is wrong. Creating an environment where electronic security devices are useless can really only benefit the burglars, who have been doing their research on Eskom’s schedules:

“We have had reports of criminals tripping the electrics before a scheduled outage, so they can cut an electric fence and gain access like that. That is one thing that people must be very aware of, don’t just assume it is load shedding, it could be a criminal activity.”

Martin Kriel

Burglary stats in South Africa

The annual figures for burglary and theft are devastating: According to the most recent crime statistics for 2018/2019:

  • There were 220 000 house burglaries reported to SAPS
  • That works out to be 605 houses per day.
  • Vehicle crime was also an issue, as over 48 000 cars were pinched.

Does load shedding encourage crime?

Yusuf Abramjee is a leading anti-crime advocate in South Africa. We spoke to him recently about the relationship between load shedding and criminal activity. There is no doubt in his mind that the two are inextricably linked, saying that a lack of electricity is a massive advantage to the thieves of Mzansi.

“The indications are clear that criminals strike more often during load shedding. This is due to there being more darkness for criminals to operate in, helping them make easy getaways. Criminals try their luck at every turn and load shedding gives them another opportunity, and we’re seeing a clear link between blackouts and increased criminal activity.”

Yusuf Abramjee