Johannesburg - A man targeting showhouses all over Joburg and Pretoria in order to steal easy-to-carry valuables has been nicknamed “Steve the Shopper” by an online crime-fighting forum.
The man allegedly calls estate agents and sets up appointments to view houses they have advertised for sale. He calls himself Steve or Bertus. While in the homes, he lifts cash and jewellery when the estate agent isn’t looking.
Crime-fighting organisation eBlockwatch has set up a Facebook page specifically for estate agents to alert them to any crimes happening in areas were they work.
eBlockwatch founder Andre Snyman said that through the page they were alerted to several incidents where Steve the Shopper had been in operation. They had also managed to get CCTV footage of the alleged thief.
eBlockwatch member Stella van Niekerk said Steve the Shopper did not seem to be fussy about house prices. She said they had been alerted to at least seven incidents where Steve the Shopper had been involved.
They had come across thefts in Bassonia, Fourways Gardens, Broadacres, Mondeor, Midrand, Douglasdale, Dainfern Estate and Kyalami Estate.
“Those are just the incidents that we know of. I’m sure there are many more,” Van Niekerk said.
On May 16, the man calling himself Bertus made an appointment with an estate agent in Kyalami to view two properties.
During the house visits, he allegedly stole jewellery worth R25 000 when he was left alone for a few minutes.
At a showhouse in Mondeor earlier this month, R3 000, a wallet and a gold and silver watch were stolen.
Kyalami Estates security manager Jaco Gerber said he had found two police case numbers in Midrand and Douglasdale for similar crimes and needed to establish whether it was Steve the Shopper.
He said he had also been alerted to incidents in Centurion and Pretoria that sounded similar.
Snyman said it was not the first time eBlockwatch had seen this method of operation. Last year, a couple they nicknamed “Bonnie and Clyde” worked their way from Cape Town along the coast, robbing showhouses.
The duo were eventually caught by police in Port Elizabeth. In total, 18 cases had been opened against them.
Snyman urged estate agents to join the Facebook group to gather information on similar crimes.