Cape Town - A notorious “crowbar gang” were caught on CCTV camera as they robbed the Kloof Veterinary Hospital in Green Point on Wednesday morning.

Armed response personnel were on the scene within three minutes of the hospital’s alarm being triggered, but it was too late. By that time the four men had stolen two computer screens and a number of computer hard drives, and driven off in a getaway vehicle.

Last month the Weekend Argus published a comprehensive report on the recent exploits of criminal bands who use the “crowbar gang” modus operandi in the southern suburbs and on the Cape Flats. But, as illustrated by the speed of Wednesday morning’s robbery, the “gangs” pose as much of a threat to homes and businesses along the Atlantic seaboard as well.

“This is a major challenge, because these criminals have good knowledge of the alarm systems,” said Michael Bracale, Green Point branch manager for Avenue Response Team.

“The burglars are professional, well organised and they know exactly how long they have before there is a risk of armed response guards arriving at the scene.”

Avenue’s guards were at the hospital within minutes of the alarm being triggered, he said.

“A few years ago we caught one of these guys in the act. After that there was a period of calm, where we didn’t see the MO being employed. Over the last six months, there has been a definite uptick again, however.”

Cathy Wahl, a vet at the hospital, shared the footage with Cape Argus on Wednesday morning in the hope that it could assist in identifying the culprits. However, the clip is grainy and all of the four men are wearing hats which partially obscure their faces.

The clip shows the men entering the hospital’s front door – which had been pried open with a crowbar or similar tool. They run out of frame, into the reception area, and leave the building seconds later carrying computer screens and other electronic devices.

“One can see from the footage that they jump into an awaiting vehicle, with its lights on.

“One of the robbers climbed into the driver’s seat, indicating that there probably was not a fifth man waiting in the car as a getaway driver,” said Wahl.

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Cape Argus