Durban - A child and two women dressed in burkas are targeting hair and beauty salons and making off with cellphones.
The trio recently struck at a salon in Overport.
In the video footage, the boy snatches a cellphone from a work station and hides behind the women, while they speak to the hairstylist Merle Prince.
Prince, who was alone at the time, said she was on a call with her mother when the group arrived. She pressed the remote control that unlocked the front gate and they entered.
She said she placed the cellphone at the work station, while one woman enquired about an appointment.
“We then walked away from my station towards the reception desk and made an appointment for the next day. She even gave me a phone number.”
After they left, she noticed her Samsung S7 Edge was missing.
“I ran outside to find these people, but they were gone.”
CCTV cameras later showed them getting into a blue car.
“When I tried to call the number the woman gave me, there was no ringtone.”
The owner of a beauty salon in Westville said two cellphones were taken using a similar modus operandi.
“I was busy with a client when they arrived. I opened the gate to let them in, and they enquired about the prices of facial treatments. One of them took my business card and said she would call to make an appointment. The women, who wore burkas, left and got into a black car. Both my cellphones, which were at the reception, were stolen.”
Another salon owner in Morningside, Sameera Khan, said the boy and women arrived and the women were not in traditional attire.
“I was not there at the time, but the beautician said they wanted to make an appointment for facials. During this time, the boy walked around, and she did not think much of it. She only noticed the cell was missing after they left.”
Zain Soosiwala, of the community crime-fighting group eThekwini Secure, said after they posted the video of the incident in Overport, they were inundated with complaints from alleged victims. “We have since received about 10 complaints. In some incidents, the women did not wear burkas, but in all the cases, the boy was with them.”
He claimed the trio operated in Durban Central, Chatsworth, Overport, and Margate.
Police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Thulani Zwane, said a case of theft was opened following the robbery in Overport.