'Under-the-pillow' banks spur Xmas crime

HARARE - Police say cases of house breaking are on the increase in Harare, largely due to people keeping huge sums of money in their homes.

Tadious Chibanda, the Harare police spokesperson, said such cases have doubled since December 21, with at least 10 cases being reported daily.

Many people in the country have lost faith in banks after the 2008 economic meltdown that saw deposits vanish following the collapse of the local currency.

Banks have made a slow recovery, registering an increase in deposits from $1,25 billion in January 2010 to over $3 billion. People hold more than that figure, at least $3,5 billion, which is outside of banks, according to the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe.

This is despite the abandonment of the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009 for a multi-currency system dominated by the US dollar and South African rand.

Chibanda said this mistrust in banks is feeding house breakings.

He said before the festive season, police were recording at least four cases daily, but now the figures have spiked.

“People are keeping large sums of money in their homes and this puts them at risk of being targets. We urge them to do their monetary transactions electronically,” said Chibanda.

Areas that have recorded the highest number of such cases are Borrowdale, Avondale and Eastlea.

According to the police, the latest victim was Dories Annie Kristian Sei, who lost $17 000 to thieves who broke into her Eastlea house on Wednesday night.

“What is worrying us as police is that the modus operandi being used is the same, people should not leave their valuable gadgets in open spaces. They should not move with huge sums of money as this will definitely attract thieves,” he said. - Xolisani Ncube

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