‘Gadget Gang’ a priority

2016-01-21 11:45
Screengrab from Scottsville Primary School CCTV footage taken during the school’s burglary early on Monday morning. The same gang is believed to be responsible for two other school computer heists.

Screengrab from Scottsville Primary School CCTV footage taken during the school’s burglary early on Monday morning. The same gang is believed to be responsible for two other school computer heists. (Supplied)

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Pietermaritzburg - The police are still on the hunt for a gang of thieves who stole more than 100 computers from several Pietermaritzburg schools.

Nicknamed the Gadget Gang, they hit Bisley Park Primary, Scottsville Primary and Athlone Primary School on consecutive nights from Sunday through to Tuesday morning.

However, while the replacement value of the computers stands well in excess of R1,1 million, the cost of damage at the schools is expected to push the costs much higher. Doors were broken open, CCTV cameras were damaged, alarm systems battered and furniture damaged at each school.

Pietermaritzburg SAPS spokesperson Sergeant Mtokozisi Ngobese said they had “received numerous possible leads” since publication of the matter in TheWitness.

“We appreciate the feedback and urge the public to continue to inform us of what they might know. We are confident that we will apprehend the suspects very soon,” he said.

On Tuesday, the uMungundlovu SAPS south division set up a “Recovery Task Team Unit” comprising 70 police officers to investigate the
burglaries.

The alarm systems did not activate in each case. This gave the burglars ample time to meticulously disconnect the computers in the labs and administration blocks and load them into a truck.

Rob Anderson, Pietermartizburg head of Red Alert Security, said the company had recently taken over the monitoring services at Scottsville.

“The intruders entered the ceiling crawl space, found the harness of cables that lead to the control panel beneath the ceiling, made a hole in the ceiling, and then destroyed the control panel, all the cables including the power and communication cables, which resulted in no alarm signal being transmitted,” he said.

The Witness has since found that a similar theft took place at the KwaMashu Teachers Centre on January 9. According to police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane, three armed men held up the security guard after midnight and stole 24 computers, loaded them into a getaway vehicle and disappeared.

It is unclear whether all the burglaries are linked.

Anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the suspects should call Sergeant Mtokozisi Ngobese at 082 856 8954.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  computers  |  gadget gang  |  theft

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