Cape Town - They desperately tried to escape their pursuers, even jumping out of their car and wading through a vlei.
But five members of the so-called “Crowbar Gang” are now behind bars after they were taken down by security guards following a hot pursuit in Lakeside.
Mountain Men Security owner Alan Dillon said the thieves had first been spotted cruising around the neighbourhood of Zandvlei on Wednesday afternoon in a white car.
It was 4pm, and the neighbourhood was quiet ahead of the evening commute.
Over the past months, suspicious cars had become a common sight in the area.
Dillon said the “Crowbar Gang” and its copycats had robbed eight houses since January.
Rented white vehicles in particular were as much a part of their modus operandi as the tool they used to derail gates and force open doors.
“(We) saw the car drive into our client’s premises, these guys then got out of the car and went into the property.”
Just seconds later, the alarm was triggered.
Dillon said they quickly dispatched security guards who arrived along with the home owner.
Together, they converged on the five thieves now fleeing in their white car.
The thieves were speeding towards the vlei, looking to escape from the area.
But they were quickly cut off by an armed response vehicle, said Dillon.
“They then got out and ran to the vlei,” he added.
“They actually went into the water and started heading towards Muizenberg.”
As they waded away they began throwing away their balaclavas. Dillon suspected they took the opportunity to dispose of the crowbar they used to smash the window at the Lakeside home.
But when the men emerged from the vlei, there were armed security guards waiting for them.
“They effected an arrest,” said Dillon. “And called in the police.”
Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut confirmed that police had been alerted to the housebreaking in Orient Road.
When they arrived they found the security guards standing over the five thieves who they had arrested.
While the thieves are set to appear in Muizenberg Magistrate’s Court once they are charged, Dillon is concerned that there are still more groups of “crowbar style” robbers operating in the area.
While he has dismissed the idea that the break-ins are the work of a single syndicate, he said there were multiple groups who were quickly becoming adept at daylight burglaries.
“This time round the thieves didn’t go through the front door, but smashed a big window on the side,” he said.
“I have no doubt that this is the work of a crowbar style gang, everything matches up otherwise.”
Like most linked to the so-called gang, they went straight for the Plasma TV which was found in the backseat of their vehicle.
Dillon said that the thieves had also been spotted taking a picture of the house before breaking in, suggesting that the images could be used to keep track of which houses had been recently hit.
While the “Crowbar Gang” is operational throughout Cape Town, and running rampant in many places - there was reportedly another robbery in Kraaifontein on Thursday - Dillon’s security company has already arrested multiple groups of robbers in the past two years. He said they were working hard to keep track of vehicles and pre-empting the gang’s activities.