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Two Soweto neighbours on Thursday morning woke up to find that their cars were stolen.
One of the neighbours went next door to ask for a lift to the police station, only to discover that the neighbour had suffered the same fate.
They then went to the police after activating the tracking device on one of the stolen cars, and this led to the discovery of a large scrapyard chop shop, three arrests and the recovery of 12 stripped-down VW vehicles.
The events started early on Thursday morning when Daniel Naledzani from phase 4 in Bramfischerville, Soweto noticed that his car was missing. He went across the road to ask his neighbour for a lift to the police station, only to find that his car was missing too.
“We looked everywhere, I even said let’s go to the river,” Naledzani said.
He then alerted his tracking company, and police traced his car to Cresswell Park, a residential area in Roodepoort.
“When I bought my car, they said: ‘You know a Golf is a target,’” said Naledzani.
His neighbour Daniel Matee said he was pleased that the police had also recovered his car, but was not happy that he would have to pay for repairs to damage the thieves had caused.
Both cars were found at the same scrapyard. Police arrested three suspects aged between 21 and 37 inside the house on Platinum Avenue.
Three of the cars found on the property have been positively identified as stolen, said police spokeswoman Captain Pinky Tsinyane.
Naledzani and Matee went to the chop shop where they identified their cars and gave police statements.
They stood next to two of the suspects who were sitting on a step with their hands tied behind their backs in the courtyard next to the kitchen door.
Inside the house, car parts were stacked all over. Four wheels and car seats were stacked next to a mattress on the floor of one bedroom.
Cambelts and fanbelts were hung from a clothes rail in a cupboard in another room of the house.
A cupboard in the hallway between the rooms was also stacked full of car parts.
There was little space to move in these rooms because of all the parts that were lying on the floors.
The lounge was the only room in the house without car parts. On the mantelpiece, photographs of one of the suspects and what appeared to be his wife or girlfriend and another of a baby took pride of place next a framed certificate for “merit”.
While police conducted their investigations, three birds in two cages in the lounge squawked furiously.
Outside, a rat climbed the front stairs of the house before running back into the garden where the shell of a VW Golf rested in the long grass.
Tsinyane appealed to the public to report any suspicious activity in their neighbourhood.
“Today it’s this area, tomorrow it will affect your neighbourhood,” she said.