Car thief caught in the act

2014-06-17 00:00

A SUSPECTED car thief was caught red-handed inside a vehicle at Save Hyper in Pietermaritzburg at the weekend, and was arrested thanks to the quick action of a group of car guards.

The suspect — from J section, Imbali — was found in possession of what appeared to be a remote car jamming device, a cellphone, wallet and screwdriver.

He was handed over to police.

The owner of the Toyota Fortuner in which the man was found — Dr Mohammed Bhuiyan of Ladysmith — told The Witness yesterday he has no doubt that if it had not been for the quick response by the four car guards, he and his family would have emerged from the supermarket after shopping to discover their car missing.

He said he had found it strange when they got out of the vehicle that his own remote control device did not work and he could not lock his car with it.

“My wife even said it was odd because it was working just before this when we were at Northway Mall,” he said.

Dr Bhuiyan said he gave up on the remote and used his car keys to manually lock his vehicle.

Fifteen minutes later, whilst shopping, he heard an announcement and his car registration being read out.

He discovered the suspect in custody and found that the lock of his vehicle had been damaged.

Johnny Weltz, area manager of Crime Stop Car Park Guards, KZN, the company in charge of the car guards at Save Hyper, praised the work of the four guards.

He said they had put their lives at risk to safeguard a customer’s property, as they were trained to do.

The guards did not want their identities published in the media as they felt this could compromise their safety, he said.

Weltz said a customer tipped off a car guard at about 5.15 pm on Friday about a man seen tampering with a grey Toyota Fortuner in the parking lot.

The guards rushed to the scene and found the suspect seated in the back of the vehicle.

The guards could see that the car door lock had been damaged.

They knocked on the window and politely asked the man if they could talk to him.

When he opened the car door they enquired if the vehicle was his.

The man said the car belonged to his brother who was in the shop.

However, when they asked him to accompany them into the store to point out his brother he became “jittery” and looked afraid.

As the man got out of the car he tried to flee but the guards grabbed him. When they searched him they discovered car keys, a screw driver and a remote device, as well as a wallet in his possession.

One of the car guards involved in the arrest told The Witness it was daunting to confront a person without knowing if he was armed.

However, he said the guards could not think of their own safety because it was their job to safeguard customers’ cars.

“We used our training,” he said.

He said sometimes the public seemed to think that car guards were just there to “make money”.

“I want to tell them that we are there to serve the community,” he said.

He added that after training as car guards, a number of them went on to find permanent jobs in the security industry.

Weltz said the car guards don’t receive a basic salary and rely on tips from the public.

However, the four guards were given bonuses as a reward for their dedication, he added.

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