Polite robbers party

2014-10-30 00:00

A BIZARRE robbery gang has had a party in three homes in the same street in a week — with residents “gently” tied up in the next room.

Local security officials say the same four-man crew invaded the houses in and around Queens Crescent in Forest Hills since last Monday, including a leisurely two-hour ransacking of the Moorheads’ home yesterday morning.

In each case, residents’ wrists were padded with toilet paper to prevent bruising from cords and belts, while the robbers helped themselves to sandwiches, liquor and cigarettes in the kitchen, and chatted to friends on the phone.

Yesterday, they tucked into the packed lunch of 30-year-old Dane Moorhead in the kitchen, while drinking alcohol “straight from the bottle” and chain-smoking.

In a counter-version to “good cop, bad cop”, one robber covered his victims with blankets as they lay on the floor, “because you must keep warm”, while another swore loudly and repeatedly made references to his gun.

And in another case last week, a robber handed a stolen phone to a victim so he could give a senior crook directions to the house, and to “explain” why he (the robber) was unable to steal more valuable goods.

They told two victims it was “just our job”, and assured the Moorheads that “we are not rapists or murderers — we are just hungry”.

But, chillingly, clues at the scenes suggested the gang had tried doorknobs, jiggled windows and inspected alarm systems inside the properties of dozens of houses in Forest Hills in the past week.

George Swart, with Forest Hills 2 Patrols, said the robbers gained access to the first home by hooking a key through an open window, and entered the second house via a back door they found to be unlocked. They spotted that the alarm system was off at the Moorhead home.

“They’re opportunists who look for security weaknesses. We think they’ve been inspecting a bunch of houses up close.”

Swart said that, in the first attack, the mother of one resident was woken up in her granny flat and asked to lie with her head beneath a pillow. He said she was rescued from her bonds by her son, who heard his mother’s car being driven away at 3.30 am.

Swart said the robbers found only small treats to enjoy at the first two homes, but “went all out” at the Moorheads’, “making a meal for themselves and drinking liquors and smoking”.

Joey du Plessis, director of Careline crisis and trauma centre, is assisting all three families.

She said: “Two hours is a long time to be interrogated by armed robbers. It’s a tough experience to process.”

Karen Buxton, head of Waterfall 2 neighbourhood watch, said the robbery blitz served as a warning that residents should secure their properties and arm their alarms at night.

She said the robbers “come in on foot and leave in people’s cars”, and said police were seeking CCTV footage to trace their movements.

“It seems bizarre and is certainly brazen, but the notion that these guys are beginners is wrong. They know exactly what they are doing.”

Heather writes matric exam despite ordeal

ROWAN PHILP

HEATHER Moorhead insisted on writing her matric exam yesterday — just hours after armed robbers tied her up in a marathon pre-dawn ordeal and stripped her family’s home of “basically everything”.

The 17-year-old and her Forest Hills family were bound — bizarrely, with padding to protect their wrists — for over two hours, as four robbers slowly loaded their belongings into their two cars and drove off.

But as police swarmed her home, the sleep-deprived matriculant decided she had to somehow get to her matric Afrikaans exam anyway.

The intruders had already stolen her summer holiday fund. But Heather “refused” to allow the thugs to ruin her summer by forcing her to do the supplementary exam next year.

A counsellor for Careline and local neighbourhood watch officers called Moorhead “an inspiration” — and her brother, Dane (30), “a hero” for preventing violence during the incident.

Yesterday — as she and her mother, Karen, shopped to restock their home with basics — Heather told The Witness of her ordeal: “At about 2 am, I heard sounds outside my bedroom door. I peeped out and saw four human shadows, and realised there should only be three other people in the house.”

“I locked the door and [text] messaged a friend to say: ‘There is a break-in — please help.’ [Later] I put the phone on silent and hid it under the bed.”

After being forced out of her bedroom, Heather found her brother in the process of saving their dogs’ lives.

Karen Moorhead told that story: “Dane was so brave. They wanted to shoot the dogs — we have a Great Dane and a St Bernard — but Dane said: ‘You don’t have to kill them. Let me rather put them in the bathroom’ … Dane kept [the robbers] calm — he basically controlled the scene.”

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