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Cape Town - One of the northern suburbs’ notorious crowbar gangs was snapped in the act seconds after they robbed a house in Sonstraal Heights last week.
A photograph, taken by a CCTV camera at a home, supposedly shows four men making off with stolen goods in the yard just after the robbery. The photo was uploaded by a user on the Joostenbergvlakte community Facebook page.
“It shows the unbelievable brazenness of these criminals. It is broad daylight and they are running around without even covering their faces,” said Curt Minnie, who’s an administrator to the online group and sent the photo to the Cape Argus.
Uitzicht neighbourhood watch member Henry Kasner says that he was very familiar with this modus operandi.
“These are professional criminals. They are experts in blending into their surroundings. They do not wear masks, they dress well and they drive fancy getaway cars. They don’t speed and calmly go about their business in the neighbourhood where they are burgling so as not to attract any attention,” he said.
Kasner claims that the greater Bellville area had similar break-ins.
“It is incredibly frequent and we know that there are a number of gangs operating, all using a similar tactic,” he said.
It includes checking which houses are unoccupied, identifying a target which seems accessible and then using a crowbar to pry open the front door and security gate.
There were about five gang members, with one usually being a getaway driver. The others go for a specific valuable item - one takes the television, another will rifle through the drawers in the bedroom looking for jewellery and another will pick up something else of value. It takes a matter of seconds, according to Kasner. So by the time armed response arrives after the alarm has been triggered, the thieves are long gone.
“People often think that, because we don’t live in Joburg, we are relatively immune to crime of this magnitude. I think these types of break-ins have really shaken people up and the only way to combat it is to upgrade security in our neighbourhoods. People should seriously consider joining their local neighbourhood watches,” said Kasner.
Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said statistics on the prevalence of these “crowbar” break-ins would take time to source but he confirmed that police were investigating.