East police warn against crime scene tampering

Image for illustration only. Photo: File

An investigation into a theft out of a motor vehicle case can be hampered and evidence destroyed if the vehicle is repaired before the police can dust it for fingerprints, police warn.

Spokesperson Captain Colette Weilbach said detectives had found that often motorists repaired their vehicles before reporting the theft out of the motor vehicle to the police.

“We urge community members to preserve crime scenes until the police investigation is completed and fingerprints are taken.”

She said owners often opened a case because the insurance companies had demanded a case number to open claim for losses and damages file.

“The SAPS have a mandate to investigate all reported cases even though the complainant may only report it for insurance purposes. Although fingerprints do not always lead to an immediate arrest, they can assist in future arrests.

“When the same suspect commits another crime, it can help investigating officers to link one crime scene to another involving the same person.”

Weilbach said when suspects were arrested, they could be charged for all the outstanding cases.

“Fingerprint identification also helps investigating officers to track the record, previous arrests and convictions of a criminal. This profile is placed inside a case docket before it is taken to court.”

She said it was also important for residents and business owners to be patient after a robbery or a burglary.

“They must allow the SAPS to attend to the crime scene and to arrange for fingerprints before they start to clean up and to repair doors and windows.”

“There is a risk that evidence can be destroyed with every person that enters a crime scene and that is why crime scenes are cordoned off by the SAPS.”

“Community members can assist the SAPS by denying people access to the crime scene and by not touching anything until such time that the SAPS had been on the scene,” she said.

“During the investigation, the police have to ensure that all information and forensic evidence are gathered to trace possible suspects. This evidence is also crucial in prosecuting suspects successful during court cases.”

Weilbach said community members played an invaluable role in ensuring that criminals were put behind bars.

ALSO READ: How to manage a crime scene

Do you have more information about the story? Please send us an email to [email protected] or phone us on 083 625 4114.

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  AUTHOR
Liam Ngobeni
Journalist

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