Car thefts bring reign of fear to Northway Mall

2011-06-16 00:00

PARKING vehicles at Northway Mall in Pietermaritzburg has become a risk for business owners and their clients. Eight vehicles have allegedly been stolen there since the begining of June.

Car thefts are not the only crimes to have set back business and shopping at the centre on Old Greytown Road (Bhambatha Road) in the northern suburbs. At least one of the shops has been burgled.

This has left businessmen and traders who rent space in the mall in fear of their safety and of losing clients.

Three vehicles were allegedly stolen at the parking lot on June 9. Tenants said five more vehicles belonging to shoppers were stolen in May.

However, management at the mall say there have been only four vehicle thefts in the past three weeks.

Shanaz Naidoo, who runs Bassix, a clothing shop, said a Mazda bakkie belonging to her husband, Thilogren, was stolen on the evening of June 9.

“It was at about 6 pm when he parked the vehicle and came into the shop. We left the shop at about 6.20 pm only to find that it was gone,” she said.

Naidoo, who now uses public transport, said there was no broken glass to show that the criminals had broken a window. She suspects that car guards may be involved.

The mall has four car guards working in the morning and evening and four others who take over until the centre closes.

Another victim, Kashif Shakh, said he lost goods and cash to the value of R80 000 on the evening of May 25.

This was after his Vanilla Music shop was broken into.

“I was called at about 11 pm and when I arrived I found that 45 cellphones and a scanner were missing. We found a printer outside the shop. The criminals broke a window to enter the shop,” he said.

The victims and other tenants said security guards and car guards have failed to explain how criminals are able to get away without being detected.

Said another tenant, “When we asked them what happened they just say. ‘I don’t know’. How is it possible that they don’t know if they are there? We pay operation costs every month, which is between R800 and R1 500. This is lots of money.”

They said that keeping their shops open until late has been a risky practice.

Mall manager Ro-Anne Singh said the mall has armed security guards. The number of security guards has been increased and cameras have been installed.

“We have restricted access to the centre in the evening. We have an undercover person working full time from this morning, and our security company management and another patrol car roam the centre in the evening.”

Singh said a syndicate is believed to be behind the thefts.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said no arrests have been made and that police are monitoring the mall.

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