Alert shop staff nab remote jammer

2015-08-14 08:19
CCTV footage shows the suspect leaving the vehicle with a stolen laptop bag.

CCTV footage shows the suspect leaving the vehicle with a stolen laptop bag. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - Swift action by shop staff resulted in the arrest of a man caught red-handed using a remote jammer to steal valuables from a car on Thursday.

Security manager at Phoenix Cash and Carry Alan Vadivelu said they had put their guards on high alert following The Witness article on Thursday that outlined the trend of thefts from motor vehicles using remote jamming in Pietermaritzburg’s CBD.

The wholesaler, located on Winston Road, said after the article identified their area as a hot spot, they refocused their cameras onto the parking lot and stationed more guards around the vehicles.

Their efforts paid off when they caught a man, believed to be a part of a criminal gang operating in the CBD, red-handed.

According to Vadivelu, after the owner parked his car in their car park, he got something out of his boot, locked the vehicle and entered the shop just before noon on Thursday.

Two men were spotted on CCTV cameras loitering in the car park at the time.

Only three minutes after the owner left, one of the two men approached the vehicle, walked around it, opened the door and got inside.

“He got into the vehicle to make it seem like it was his,” Vadivelu said.

The man then exited the vehicle carrying a laptop bag, believed to contain a cellphone, cash, documents and a cheque book.

His accomplice had by then exited the car park and got into a vehicle parked outside the premises.

The man could be seen holding the laptop bag and exiting the shop’s main gates, making his way up Winston Road to Mayor’s Walk.

After getting wind of the incident soon after, Vadivelu rounded up his guards and chased after the man on foot, with curious community members following close behind.

Vadivelu said they caught up to the man about 200 metres from the shop and tackled him.

The group of about 10 people then hauled the man back to the shop and bound his hands with cable ties before calling the police.

“It was an adrenalin rush. They could have been armed and ambushed us because we believe his two accomplices in the car were supposed to fetch him from Mayor’s Walk,” Vadivelu said.

Two remote jamming devices and the stolen items were recovered during the citizens’ arrest.

While the man was being held in the shop premises, his accomplices sent him text messages to ask where he was.

Vadivelu said shop staff replied to the messages, impersonating the man, saying they must come and fetch him from outside the wholesaler.

“We were trying to set up our own sting operation,” Vadivelu laughed.

The accomplices, however, did not return and the man was taken into police custody soon after.

“We want to thank The Witness for bringing our attention to this criminal problem. We have had incidents in the past but now we are taking matters into our own hands,” Vadivelu said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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