Durban - Armed with a 2-page note on how to break into a Chatsworth home - and what he could steal - a young would-be thief set upon his mission, only to get lost.
To add to his troubles, when a passing neighbourhood watch patroller stopped him, the suspect said he was looking for a job... and promptly handed over the notes to the startled resident.
The suspect was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, as well possession of drugs (a small packet of dagga).
His handwritten note, which had incorrect spelling, mentioned the name of the road in Unit 9 as well as the number.
It read: "No alarm no security… retired man with his wife. got lots of money saved in his house. he sells gold chain, ring, lamp-tops. go very slowly threw cilling (sic). some gold kept in the out building. go threw cilling (sic). come 2 morning. no alarm no security. hit wife. she give you everything.”
Written on the side of the page and circled was: “take his cars”. On the back of the page it read: “every wed wife go 10 clock come back at 1 clock. break kitchen door in the side (sic)."
The suspect was found wandering on a road in Unit 6, about a 45 minute walk from his intended destination.
The Arena Park resident and crime patroller who stopped him, a man who wanted to be identified only as Alli, told POST on Tuesday that as soon as he saw the letter, he knew he had to do something to stop him.
“I asked him, ‘What are you doing here?’ and he said he was looking for job at a house but didn't know where [it was] so I asked for the address and saw the paper.
"I don't think he understood English much because he handed over the paper to me. As I got to the third line the hair on my arms stood up."
Alli decided he needed to play it cool and asked the suspect to get into his vehicle, offering to take him to his destination.
"It never crossed my mind this guy could be armed; all I wanted to do was help keep someone safe,” he said.
“As he got into the car I started driving slowly and called Captain Logan Govender from Metro Police. I couldn't say much, all I said is 'I need you now' and he understood; he told me to go back to the corner of the road where he will be waiting.”
As Alli turned a corner to go back he noticed the man next to him start to take off his shoes.
"He could have been preparing to run out of the vehicle but I sped up and there was Captain waiting for us."
Said Govender: "When I got the call I knew I needed to assist and help Alli. He is a part of the Arena Park sub committee. When he had the guy and called I went out and arrested the guy with a charge of conspiracy to commit crime and he also had a packet of dagga on him.
"We also carried out an investigation and proceeded to the home. The lady was reluctant to open but eventually when we chatted to her she saw the note and was shocked to see a few pieces of information that was true. But she does not have any domestic workers so we don't know who it could have been watching her.”
The woman refused to comment, but her neighbours said they were grateful for the arrest.
“Anything could have gone wrong but the intervention stopped it. But we are on edge since seeing the messages (on social media) because it's like inviting people to our community and we feel like we are also targets,” said one resident who did not want to be named.
Another, Denise Govender who has been living in the area for 25 years, said they have being battling to sleep since finding out about the would-be theft.
She said her family have been targeted a few times over the past five years.
"We notice every December our home is being targeted. Recently between December and March our house was cleaned out; we came home to nothing.
"We decided to get a boerboel dog but sadly it was poisoned two weeks ago and a week later we saw a guy cut our fence and steal two wheel rims. The other day he came back for the other two tyres.
"We are scared. We considered moving but my late father built this house, what do we do? How do we leave?”