‘Gadget Gang’ suspected in hit at Pinetown school

2016-02-11 10:00
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 searching for a gang responsible for a string of burglaries at schools in and around Pietermaritzburg.

While it is still not known if all the crimes are linked, despite the modus operandi in each instance being similar, it now appears as if the criminals have moved to Pinetown.

Benjamin Pine Primary School, just off the M7 freeway, was ransacked on Friday evening. This included disarming the alarm system, using an angle grinder to open up the safe, and the theft of laptops, projectors and other valuables.

While Benjamin Pine officials would not comment on the matter, a source said it “appeared as if the thieves knew exactly what they were doing”.

The Pietermaritzburg schools targeted were Scottsville, Athlone, Bisley Park, Greenhill and Mountain Rise, while George Cato in Cato Ridge also fell victim.

The combined loss and cost of repairs has been estimated at more than R1 million. The Witness understands that at least 115 computers have been stolen in total, a large proportion from the schools’ media centres.

The Witness has also learnt that a national detail from the police crime ­intelligence division has been visiting several schools in the hopes of piecing together who might be carrying out the ­burglaries.

Umgungundlovu SAPS South Cluster spokesperson Sergeant Mtokozisi Ngobese said they were following leads, but have made no arrests. “The team we put together to investigate this matter have made several arrests for other crimes, but none of the suspects have been linked to the school burglaries.”

Last week , Rob Anderson, regional manager of security company Red Alert, held a meeting at Scottsville Primary to help schools understand their security risk.

He outlined to school officials what they should know about installing and maintaining security systems.

“My goal was to educate people so that they can go away with sufficient knowledge to appraise their own security systems, and in future take more direct responsibility for ensuring that the systems they have installed remain aligned with SAIDSA [South African Intruder Detection Services Association] industry standards as a minimum,” he said.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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

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