Eagle-eyed cops end spree by ‘cat burglar’

2014-10-08 00:00

A STROKE of luck saw a man suspected to be the city’s most prolific cat burglar — allegedly responsible for over 30 break-ins in upmarket suburbs — caged yesterday.

The suspect now faces a raft of charges, as police hail his arrest as a breakthrough in their year-long hunt.

When he was stopped by two vigilant policemen who observed him behaving suspiciously as he held a digital camera, his spree was finally halted.

Fingerprint analysis later linked him to 10 cases in Westville alone, and appears to have identified the burglar who had been terrorising two upmarket gated communities that flank the Palmiet River.

By night, the burglar is believed to have used the river to roam through Westville, preying on high security complexes that had never planned for his raids.

After scaling unpatrolled walls at the rear of complexes, the 23-year-old cat burglar allegedly moved quietly through the complexes, forcing his way into homes with the least security.

The robber became a thorn in the side of police, who established a team to hunt him down after a profile had been drawn up.

In Loerie Park, the thief is understood to be responsible for seven break-ins since the beginning of the year.

Another complex that he favoured as a hunting ground was the nearby Cedar Ridge, both of which border the river.

According to a police insider, who could not be named, the burglar would prey on complacent homeowners.

“He would often move around these complexes where people have the illusion of safety and force his way in through open windows. He would even force in flimsy burglar-bars that provided little resistance and then steal what he could carry, usually electronic equipment like laptops and cellphones,” the source said.

“This guy was smart, he never used the roads to move around and he got from place to place through the bush and along the river. A profile from finger prints had been drawn up and police had pursued him actively and it eventually ended in his arrest,” he added.

The burglary spree may also extend to areas of Montclair and Phoenix, with detectives identifying similar methods of operation.

He now awaits his first court appearance as detectives scramble to match dockets and fingerprints from upwards of 30 cases.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that a suspect had been arrested and would appear in court.

Westville Community Policing Forum chair Mike Meyers hailed the success as something that was long overdue.

“There is a good chance he will be linked to more crimes and hopefully it will produce more arrests,” he said.

“This is an example of great perseverance from Westville’s Crime Prevention Unit and that needs to be recognised.”

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