Are the ‘5-minute gang’ back?

2010-03-25 00:00

TWO homes in the Town Hill area were broken into at the weekend in attacks reminiscent of those of the notorious “five-minute gang”.

Members of the “five-minute gang” were apprehended by the police and private security company Chubb in 2008 after a dramatic chase during which the gang’s BMW X5 slammed into a Chubb vehicle.

The gang was known for its quick and forceful break-ins that kept the police guessing.

Michael Boast’s locked and secured home in Valley Vista Road was targeted after he left for Durban for the long weekend.

Said Senior Superintendent Jay Naicker, “On Sunday afternoon at about 4 pm, he received a phone call from his alarm company informing him that his alarm had been activated.

“He then asked one of his relatives to investigate and it was subsequently discovered that his house had been broken into.”

“The gate to his front door was forced open and the house door was kicked in,” he said.

Boast said his security gates and doors were severely damaged.

“Our security gate was damaged and our back door was ripped off.

“We have a second security gate leading to the bedroom, which was smashed,” Boast added.

His wife’s jewellery and a camera with a total value of R50 000 were stolen.

On the same weekend, in Frances Staniland Road, Johannes Coetzee’s home was broken into. Coetzee, like Boast, had left for Durban.

Coetzee said neighbours confirmed that “two smart-looking white gentlemen stopped in front of the house at 2 am” on Saturday morning.

“Workers fixing electrical cables worked right in front of my house until well past midnight on the Friday,” said Coetzee.

“I got home on Saturday to find I had been cleaned out. My TV was at the front door,” he said. “They broke the gate and they broke the door.”

While the police said the burlars stole goods to the value of R51 000, Coetzee said it was more like R130 000.

There were striking similarities between the Valley Vista and Francis Staniland incidents.

“The same modus operandi was used at both scenes,” said Naicker.

“At this stage, it cannot be confirmed whether there is a syndicate operating in the area — or whether this is the work of the notorious ‘five-minute gang’,” he added.

Chubb’s Alison Bull said: “We can’t be certain that this was the work of the ‘five-minute gang’ or a gang mimicking the original gang’s modus operandi, as most of the ‘five-minute gang’ members were apprehended.”

“We note that the perpetrators of house burglaries are either opportunists or gangs that go about watching premises for a couple of days or weeks to establish the movements of the homeowners,” she said.

The SA Police Service said the investigation is continuing, and arrests are imminent.

BOTH burglaries occurred in homes where the owner had left the premises for the weekend. Chubb suggests the following precautions for families leaving their homes for extended periods:

• Test your alarm before you go away, but notify your monitoring centre beforehand.

• Inform your security provider of any additional key holders staying in your area.

• Suspend newspaper and magazine deliveries.

• Ask someone to clear out your postbox on a regular basis.

• Consider asking a friend or family member to visit your home on a regular basis.

• If you have a house­sitter, forward the housesitter’s details to your security provider to prevent him or her from being mistaken for an unwelcome intruder.

• Pack your luggage into your vehicle behind closed garage doors.

• Do not leave notes on the door, underneath the doormat or in the post box to indicate that you are away.

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