File picture: SAPS Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Police officers in Gauteng have launched a search for a foreign national following the provincial vehicle-crime investigating unit's latest recovery of vehicle parts. 

The recovery has since been linked to at least nine cases of either hijacked or stolen vehicles reported at different police stations in the province, Gauteng police said on Saturday.

In a joint operation that ran parallel with Operation O Kae Molao in Tsakane, the team on Thursday, together with Ekurhuleni Metro Police and Tracker security officers, followed a stolen vehicle from Soweto to Commissioner Street in Jeppestown, Johannesburg, Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said. 

"Police immediately confirmed after inspection that they were facing a chop shop and as soon as the alleged owner, a foreign national, realised that police were onto him, he escaped. Police are still searching for the man," Peters said.

Through another key partner in the fight against vehicle crime, Data Dot, the team was able to establish that two VW Polo headlights were positively linked to a Randburg case opened this month; a Toyota Etios gearbox linked to a Brixton case opened in June this year; a VW gearbox casing linked to a Florida case also opened in June this year; and VW Polo parts with engine and gearbox linked to a Honeydew case this month.

Further investigations conducted on Friday saw more parts recovered, including a Nissan headlight and brake booster linked to a Parkview case in August; a Toyota brake booster linked to a Jeppe case in June; a Toyota Etios brake booster linked to a Brixton case in March; a Toyota Etios rear bumper linked to a Johannesburg Central case opened in October 2018; and two VW Polo front headlights linked to a Randfontein case in September 2019.

"Operations of this nature will continue as police in Gauteng intensify efforts to reduce the volumes of serious and violent crime through curbing the theft of motor vehicles and, especially, hijackings that are often violent in nature.

"Members of the public are urged to assist the police by reporting on suspicious chop shops, where prices are often ridiculously lower than market prices. Buying at such places only creates the space for hijacking and places the lives of innocent people at risk," Peters said.

Gauteng police commissioner Lt-Gen Elias Mawela commended the latest successes by the provincial vehicle-crime investigating unit. Members of the public could report crime by calling the nearest police station or the crime stop number 086-00-10111.

African News Agency