Housebreaking syndicates: how do they work?

2008-06-02 00:00

The Witness has established that the men who were arrested in Chase Valley on Saturday are believed to be from the Cape Town area.

Senior researcher in crime, justice and politics at the Institute for Security Studies, Dr Johan Burger, yesterday told The Witness that criminals commit crimes in different towns to evade police detection through local informers, but added it is unusual for them to travel from the Western Cape to a Pietermaritzburg suburb.

“Syndicates do move around, even to neighbouring provinces, especially if police are giving a lot of attention to the specific crime they are involved in.”

He said that sometimes the criminals who know who their rich targets are do not commit the crimes themselves, but pay others or give them a cut to do the dirty work.

“If people come from far away, neither the local police nor their informers know them. Police rely on their informer networks, but when a new group comes into town for a break-in and leaves again, the informers know nothing.”

Burger said more sophisticated housebreakers spend days and even weeks monitoring and observing a house, making careful notes. Who lives there? How many people? When do they leave home and return?

Alarmingly, he said they even hide in the backyards of homes at night and when the lights are, can scrutinise what is inside.

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