Durban container syndicate smashed

2012-06-19 00:00

DURBAN police say they have smashed a local syndicate behind the theft of shipping containers with goods worth some R400 million.

Two months of covert work by the Durban Organised Crime Unit paid off on Friday when 14 containers were seized in a raid on premises in Queensburgh.

Another two were retrieved from a storage company in Maydon Wharf, where investigators say the syndicate operated from.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge said the recovered property, which included two Hyster forklifts used to load the massive containers on to trucks, was worth R100 million.

One of the forklifts had allegedly been reported stolen by financing house Wesbank.

The syndicate was slick, said Mdunge.

“They would steal today and distribution was done by tomorrow.”

The storage company allegedly operated under two different names, but each lists the same person as director. Police are withholding the names until the prime suspects are arrested, which Mdunge said was “imminent”.

He explained how the containers would come through the harbour from countries like Chile, Brazil and China and be sent to the storage facility for three days where the syndicate would remove and resell any items inside. The goods included car engines and appliances.

Mdunge said the containers would have identifying tags removed before they were sold on as well, or converted into mobile offices.

The owner of the Queensburgh site that was raided told officers he paid R200 000 for the containers. He told police they came from the same storage facility identified as the hub of the illegal operation.

If a company complained about its missing container, a replacement would allegedly be stolen, stamped and sent back, Mdunge added.

No arrests have been made and investigations are ongoing to recover more of the stolen property, which investigators estimate at some R400 million.

All the items recovered by police last week have been positively identified by their rightful owners.

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