Cellphone theft: five-year-old spots the

2011-03-26 00:00

“YESTERDAY I was at a shop and there was a baddie and I caught the baddie.”

That’s how little Liané Swanepoel (5) told how she helped catch a cellphone thief in a Pretoria supermarket on Thursday.

Liané was with her parents, former police officer Barend Swanepoel and wife Annelize, when Joanne Vorster’s phone was stolen in front of her.

“The tannie [Vorster] brought her bag and she put her cellphone in the little pocket. The other lady came and then she took the cellphone,” recounted


“I told my mom and dad the tannie with the long hair with the silver bag with sparkles on it stole the cellphone.”

Swanepoel at first didn’t believe his daughter, but he ran to the shop entrance to see which way the woman had gone. Leaving his wife there, he took Liané to find Vorster. They asked if she had her cellphone, and when she couldn’t find it, Swanepoel, Vorster’s friend Inus van Wyk and the shop guards ran in three directions looking for the pickpocket.

The guards caught up with her nearby and Swanepoel said she started taking off her clothes to prove she didn’t have the phone.

However, the shop’s CCTV showed her stealing the phone and handing it to a man, who fled in a black BMW. The woman was arrested.

“Liané comforted me when I burst into tears,” Vorster said. “She didn’t want to leave, and she told me I shouldn’t put my phone in that little pocket. I told I had to, it was the other woman who shouldn’t have stolen it,” she said.

“She’s my angel.”

Liané said she wants to be a policewoman when she grows up, “because I want to catch baddies”.

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