Johannesburg - “Steve the Shopper” has been busy again - managing to get himself arrested twice in five days.
On Monday, The Star revealed that a man had been targeting showhouses around Joburg and Pretoria, stealing easy-to-carry valuables.
He had been nicknamed Steve the Shopper by crime-fighting organisation eBlockwatch, which had identified him on a Facebook group called “Estate Agents on eBlockwatch”.
The man sets up appointments with estate agents, calling himself Steve or Bertus. While in the homes, he allegedly lifts cash and jewellery when the estate agent isn’t looking.
Steve the Shopper allegedly stole jewellery worth R25 000 in Kyalami recently. On Friday afternoon, he was arrested at Silver Lakes Estate.
Keilah Dobbs from Xsite Properties said it was her client that Steve allegedly stole from.
She said she and the owner had given statements about the theft to the investigating officer who arrested Steve.
But Dobbs said Steve the Shopper was released because evidence against him was insubstantial as no items had been found on him.
On Tuesday morning, the same man was caught on an estate in Centurion.
Wynand van Wyk from Zani Properties caught Steve at Midstream Estate. Van Wyk told The Star their agent Zani van Wyk was called from a private number by a man calling himself Werner.
“We were suspicious because of the private number,” said Van Wyk. The man said he was in the market for houses in the R4 million range.
Van Wyk said they had been alerted through e-mails to look out for a certain bakkie that Steve the Shopper uses, and when “Werner” showed up driving the same bakkie, they knew who he was.
“We looked up the article in The Star and saw the picture and knew it was the same man,” said Van Wyk.
When “Werner” walked into their office, Van Wyk quickly locked the door and called the police.
Van Wyk said two people who own properties on the estate identified him as the same man who had been in their house when jewellery had been stolen, and they gave statements to the police.
Inside Steve the Shopper’s bakkie, the agents discovered repossession papers, and his vehicle was repossessed at the scene.
Dobbs said there were now five police cases being brought against Steve, and more people were coming forward.
eBlockwatch member Stella van Niekerk said she had been informed that there were also cases in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal and Hartbeesportdam, North West, where a similar modus operandi had been used
Meanwhile, management of the Dainfern Homeowners Association said their estate had never been targeted by Steve the Shopper and had not experienced any incidents of theft during showdays.