Saab 9-7X Aero Concept was unveiled at SEMA this week. X06SV_SB001 (United States)

Luxury vehicles are being rented out to criminals in Durban to commit crime.

And this is just the first step in a well-oiled operation which sees stolen, hi-tech goods heading over the border in exchange for dollars.

This fact was highlighted at the Enforce Watchmen launch, where the security company presented their cutting-edge technology using virtual patrols.

Guests at the launch watched live footage of a gang in an Audi cruising a street in an upmarket Durban suburb.

Enforce director Anthony Feuilherade said it had become a modus operandi by criminals to rent high-end vehicles in which to commit crime, particularly in the elite suburbs of Umhlanga and Durban North across to Kloof and Hillcrest.

He said they are currently investigating one dealer in KwaMashu who has at least 12 luxury vehicles which are rented out to criminals on a regular basis.

In a second live footage tape at the launch, a gang in a luxury SUV bakkie are seen parking in a driveway and smashing through the gate, before kicking open the target’s front door.

Within minutes, the gang of four emerge with a large-screen television and other electronic goods which they load on to the bakkie before making their getaway. In both incidents, the criminals were wearing designer clothing.

According to security specialists, well-dressed suspects in luxury vehicles are not viewed with suspicion and have been dubbed the “three- minute gangs” due to their swift smash-and-grab modus operandi.

Feuilherade said that, according to their information, the robbers offload the stolen property to “receivers” within a couple of hours.

“Many of these are foreigners and the goods are taken over the border, often into Mozambique where they are sold for US dollars,” he said.

To combat the “three- minute gangs”, Enforce’s new technology links alarms and strategically placed cameras – either on the homeowners’ premises or in the street.

Should the alarm be breached, the control room operators are alerted to the nearest camera and are able to monitor the live feed, watching exactly what the intruders are doing and where they are on the premises.

“Once the alarm goes off, the operator can watch live video images which acts as a virtual guard or patrol.” At company sites, audio is also being used, which has proven to scare intruders as they cannot identify where the voice and sound is coming from.

Feuilherade added that neighbourhood watches were getting together and having cameras installed on their streets at strategic points as a virtual street patrol.

DA councillor in Umhlanga, Heinz de Boer, said he works closely with the Tongaat Community Policing Forum which has also received reports indicating that “a large majority” of housebreakings are being committed by suspects driving luxury vehicles.

“We have just come out of a spate of house robberies where a silver Audi and a Toyota double-cab were being used. It seems there are so many gangs operating and there has been a big mobilisation of neighbourhood watches in the last few months,” said de Boer.

SAPS Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed high-end vehicles are being used. “These criminals do have buyers ready. We have just arrested a foreign national in a flat in the Point area, where a load of flatscreen televisions were about to be exported.”