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Durban - Police have arrested three men believed to be part of a syndicate targeting homes in quiet suburbs in Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
The arrests early on Wednesday came hours after the assault and robbery of an elderly couple at their plush Hilton home.
The couple, in their mid-seventies, were shoved, kicked and beaten by their three attackers.
Their hands and feet were also bound. They were made to lie on the floor and were covered with a duvet during Tuesday night’s attack.
The husband, who walks with the aid of a walking stick, said he and his wife were too traumatised and afraid to talk to the media about their ordeal.
Police spokeswoman, Lieutenant Joey Jeevan, said three men, believed to be part of a huge syndicate, stormed the home at 11.30pm.
“The men used a crowbar to gain access through the security gate. They assaulted the victims and tied them up and ransacked their home,” she said.
The suspects got away with the couple’s Honda Jazz, a flat screen television, household goods including frozen food items, computer equipment, jewellery, clothing, cellphones and cash.
Working on information received, the Pietermaritzburg Serious and Violent Crimes, Flying Squad and K9 units were waiting on the N3 south bound, near the Umlaas Road off-ramp at 1.30am on Wednesday when a car with suspicious-looking occupants passed by.
“During this time the members spotted a Gold Toyota RunX, fitting the description of suspects that had committed the robbery in Hilton,” Jeevan said.
After seeing the police, the suspects sped off and a chase ensued.
Police managed to corner the vehicle and the suspects got out and fled in different directions.
However, with the release of the police dogs, two were swiftly apprehended and arrested.
Police have since established that the Toyota RunX was hijacked in Newlands East last month.
The vehicle, which displayed NP registration plates, was found with a set of NPN registration plates in the boot.
It is believed the suspects would swop number plates in different areas to avoid suspicion and detection.
“Subsequent investigations led police to believe that the Honda Jazz, stolen from the elderly couple’s home, was en route to Durban. A short while after circulating the description of the car, it was spotted on the M13 by the Durban Dog Unit,” Jeevan said.
The suspect noticed police were following him and he sped away.
Another chase ensued and police succeeded in forcing the suspect to stop the car.
He got out and tried to flee but was tackled by one of the police dogs.
He was arrested and is under police guard in hospital.
The items found in both vehicles had been identified as those stolen from the Hilton couple’s home, police said.
They said the man in hospital had been positively linked to another robbery in the Hilton area on August 24.
The three will appear in court on Thursday
It is believed the syndicate has been operating in the province for the past three months, targeting quiet suburbs in Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
While police in Pietermaritzburg have cracked down considerably on robbers in the area following several arrests over recent months, Jeevan warned that there were other gangs with similar modus operandi still operating in the city.
“We are urging residents to be cautious and to secure their homes at all times,” she said.
Jeevan said the arrested suspects were part of a larger syndicate, and more arrests were expected to follow.