Thieves nab stereo and torch car

2016-08-24 10:14
Woodlands resident Neal Wood escaped out of his bedroom window with his wife and children after thieves set his clients' vehicle alight on Tuesday.

Woodlands resident Neal Wood escaped out of his bedroom window with his wife and children after thieves set his clients' vehicle alight on Tuesday. (Ian Carbutt)

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A family of six were awoken in the early hours of Tuesday morning by an inferno outside when thieves who had broken into a car on their property, set it alight.

The blaze was so fierce that it blocked their front door and the family, including an eight-month-old baby, were forced to escape through the bedroom window to safety.

Neal Wood, of Woodlands Extension, said the “whoosh” sound of the car catching alight under his carport woke him and his family at around 3 am.

Wood said he and his wife, Sharon, saw the flames emerging from under their carport and reaching the roof of their house.

The vehicle was badly burnt and the walls and windows of the house were covered in soot.

When The Witness arrived at the house in Enoch Sontonga Road on Tuesday, the plastic gutters were melted and the windows were cracked from the heat of the fire.

Sharon, surrounded by neighbours, said her first thought was to save her four children. “I have never prayed like this in my life. I climbed out with my children and just ran up towards the road and started screaming for help,” she said.

According to Sharon, the flames were “miraculously” doused by neighbours with their hosepipes.

“This car had petrol in it and probably had petrol poured on it. The flames were so high, it is a miracle that water alone put out that fire. Usually the fire department comes with foam, but the neighbours had already put the fire out by the time they arrived,” she said.

This incident marked the seventh break-in on the Woods’ property in two years, with an eighth attempted break-in in this period.

Previously their garage was broken into five times and a car was also broken into.

“We only realised it was a break-in after we noticed the car’s windscreen was neatly cut out and left at the side of the house. When we looked into the burnt car for the remains of the speakers and amplifier, we noticed they weren’t there,” Wood said.

Wood, who buys and sells vehicles, said the vehicle that was set alight belonged to a customer.

He said he had recently invested over R8 000 to get the vehicle to a pristine state to sell it.

“I am running at such a loss and I have no idea what I am going to do. I will not make that R8 000 back and now I have to pay the customer for the vehicle. I cannot afford this.”

Wood said the family were left traumatised after the incident, and his children had not attended school on Tuesday. “We need to get out of here. I cannot raise my children here.”

He described crime in the area as “terrible” and said break-ins happened almost daily. “This is too much for my kids and my family. The break-ins also happen during the day. Another big problem is that pupils are being robbed as they walk home from school.”

uMgungundlovu North Cluster spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim said a case of theft out of motor vehicle and malicious damage to property would be investigated by the Mountain Rise police station.

“The matter is under investigation and the suspects are unknown at this stage,” she said.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  arson  |  fire

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