Thieves target bike stores

2016-12-14 11:24
Jowetts Cycles manager Wally Flint stands near the display stand where three Merida Full Suspension bicycles were stolen from early on Tuesday morning.

Jowetts Cycles manager Wally Flint stands near the display stand where three Merida Full Suspension bicycles were stolen from early on Tuesday morning. (Ian Carbutt)

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Brazen burglars targeted two popular cycle shops this week, stealing high-end bicycles to the value of R152 000 and riding away with them down the street.

It is believed that three men broke into Jowett’s Cycles in Victoria Road on Tuesday morning at around 5.45 am, derailing the shop’s front door and raiding one of the display stands.

Jowett’s Cycles manager Wally Flint said the bicycles stolen were three Merida full suspension bicycles, which were “very high-end” and worth R138 000 altogether.

Without daylight or people travelling to work to deter them, the three men exited the shop two minutes later, riding the expensive bicycles down Victoria Road towards Chatterton Road.

“Red Alert phoned at around 5.45 am when the shop’s alarm went off and they arrived a few minutes later but by that time it was already all over,” said Flint.

“They were in and out in less than two minutes and then rode the bikes away from the shop.”

Flint said a shop near Jowett’s had caught three men on CCTV footage riding past on bicycles that looked like the Meridas, two minutes after their alarm had gone off (see The Witness Facebook page).

The men were not wearing helmets or cycling gear.

Earlier this week, Greg Minnaar Cycles was also broken into and two bicycles worth R14 000 were stolen.

Greg Minnaar Cycles operations manager Travis Browning said the shop was broken into at around 5 am on Monday morning.

He said the burglars used two bricks and made a hole in the window that they climbed through to gain entrance to the shop.

He said three “high-end” children’s bicycles were stolen. However, one of the bikes was dropped during the burglars’ getaway and was recovered.

Browning said the men were “in and out” and seemed not to be worried about “people walking around”.

Pietermaritzburg Safe City’s Lucas Holtzhausen said it was difficult to determine whether the burglaries were opportunistic or the work of a syndicate.

Holtzhausen said Safe City was aware of the two burglaries and was working closely with other cycling shops to warn them of possible break-ins.

Hattons Cycles store manager Nivesh Doodla said they were taking precautions and the staff were always wary of suspicious behaviour.

He said the shop had CCTV cameras and had they made modifications to the bicycles that would make them near impossible to ride away on if stolen.

“The reality is that crime is taking a step up, especially now that it is the festive season.

“We are being more wary and everyone here is working as a team to prevent any crime.”

Doodla said that coupled with the break-ins, there had been several cases of fraud committed against some Pietermaritzburg cycling shops.

He said people were paying for expensive bicycles with fraudulent cheques and credit cards.

“The cycling stores are being targeted because it is easier to strip the bicycle for parts or take it across borders than it would be a car.”

Loop Street Police Station spokeswoman Captain Khosi Khonjelwayo said that both cases were being investigated, although the police did not think the burglaries were linked due to the massive price difference between the bicycles stolen.

She said the police did not suspect the Five Minute Gang or a syndicate as the burglars travelled on foot. However, more information would be revealed as the investigation continued.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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