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Cape Town - A smash-and-grab gang in Epping has become so brazen that they don’t even bother to cover their faces or run away after committing a crime.
Instead they hang around on the same corner, waiting for their next victim.
Stacey Rautenbach, who works in Epping and regularly drives along Valhalla Drive, contacted the Cape Argus in response to an SMS sent to the newspaper detailing another smash-and-grab on Vanguard Drive.
Rautenbach said she stopped at the intersection of Valhalla Drive and Jakkalsvlei Avenue last Monday: “A man in his mid-twenties or early thirties tried to smash my car’s passenger side window with some sort of tool. He then tried to squeeze his hand through a tiny crack to steal my colleague’s phone. We both screamed and I hooted. When he was unsuccessful, he just walked off and stood by the side of the road.”
Two days later, Rautenbach was driving with another colleague along the same stretch of road when she saw the same man trying to pry open the canopy of a bakkie in front of her.
Failing again, the man and his accomplice took their regular position on a low wall next to the road.
On Monday, Olwen Kenni, who often drives to Mitchells Plain to visit her family, SMSed the Cape Argus about a failed smash-and-grab attempt on her car at the Vanguard Drive and R300 intersection.
“I purposely avoided Stock Road because there are often smash-and-grabs there. Seems like Vanguard is just as bad these days,” she said.
Children had approached her car, posing as beggars to distract her. “Two men came up and signalled towards the car, then one of them started smashing my window. Luckily I had film on the window and it was smash-proof. I just drove straight through the red light when I saw there were no cars coming,” she said.
Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut confirmed that various intersections on Vanguard Drive had become hot spots for these sorts of crimes.
“Mitchells Plain and Philippi police stations have put measures in place to address these robberies.
“Our investigations have established that perpetrators usually target woman drivers who are alone in the vehicle, and have left valuables openly displayed on the passenger seat. The trend is for these crimes to mostly happen in the late afternoons and early evenings.”
Ward councillor for the area Sheval Arendse said police officers had, in recent months, apparently been diverted away from Vanguard Drive to control service delivery protests.