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Durban - The quick thinking of Metro Police dog unit officers patrolling an eManzimtoti suburb led to the arrest of a gang of four “dangerous” housebreakers who were moments from pouncing on their next target.
The gang of four foreigners, all of different nationalities, were carrying crowbars, hammers and other housebreaking equipment.
They were about to break into a home in Dawn Avenue in Athlone Park – while the family was at home – when the police pounced.
The drama unfolded at about midday on Sunday when the dog unit came across a VW Polo parked on Andrew Zondo Road (Kingsway.
The description of the car, which had been circulated to law enforcement authorities, raised the suspicion of the officers, who decided to investigate.
George Snowdey, of the Amanzimtoti Community Crime Prevention Organisation (CCPO), said before an officer got out of his patrol car to inspect the Polo he radioed CCPO patrols.
“When the officer approached the vehicle, three men came out of a property in Dawn Avenue. By this time our guys had arrived at the scene and were able to jam them in,” Snowdey said.
eManzimtoti police and private security rushed to the scene and arrested the three, and a fourth man who had been with the car.
A search uncovered a crowbar and other abandoned equipment nearby.
The homeowner, who did not want his name published, applauded the swift action.
He said minutes before the three men scaled the wall to his home, one of them had rung his front gate bell.
“I did not answer it, but watched him while he kept on ringing it. I thought he’d eventually go away, but he did not and kept on ringing the bell.
“After a while I decided to go and see what it is that he wanted, but when I got there he had gone. All of a sudden my mother-in-law saw three guys in the backyard and screamed. I went and called the CCPO,” he said.
According to the homeowner, there had been a spate of burglaries in the area over the past two months.
The police’s response time had been excellent, he said. “It was really great. Had they not come when they did, these guys would have still been roaming the neighbourhood, looking for the next house to break into.”
Snowdey said the gang had been linked to four housebreakings in the area. Their modus operandi would be to strike, preferably when no one was home, and take valuables such as plasma TVs, laptop computers and jewellery.
“They are in an out in 20 seconds. They don’t care about alarm systems. They smash through the security and take the expensive items and run. They don’t waste their time on the properties. They are very quick,” he said.
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said the men were expected to appear in court by Tuesday.