Cops nab home invasion gangsters

2009-07-10 00:00

“WE’RE sitting ducks.”

That’s how a Hilton woman has described her feeling of vulnerability after a series of brazen break-ins in the area.

Although detectives on Wednesday night arrested two men in Hilton after they broke into the home of Althea Coslett (44) in Hillary Road, police have warned that other suspects are still on the loose and that more arrests are expected.

Speedy police investigations have linked the men to 12 cases of house-breaking in Pietermaritzburg and one in Hilton. They are also wanted in KwaDukuza (Stanger) said police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram.

Budhram said Coslett was alerted to the presence of the men on her property when she heard noises at 9.40 pm on Wednesday night.

Coslett told The Witness that her three daughters and their friends were watching DVDs in the house at the time.

“I thought some more of their friends had arrived, but when I looked out I saw the men at the security gate on the verandah.”

She shouted at the men to leave, but instead of fleeing the property, the men ran around to the main bedroom window, through which they could see where Coslett was.

As she pressed the panic button to alert the security company, the intruders pulled open the french doors and started kicking down the security gate of the main bedroom, trying to get inside. They then smashed the windows in the bedroom, pulling at the burglar bars to get in. Police said one of the men cut himself on the glass as there was blood on the scene.

Coslett said she ran to the girls in the lounge to warn them, but then had to run back to the main bedroom to answer the phone call from the security company.

“As I ran out of the main room, I grabbed the key and locked the door behind me. Then I got all the children into the garage and locked us in there behind the fire door while we waited for help.”

The men eventually fled, taking a bicycle and laptop computer.

Budhram said that the detectives who responded to the incident later staked out the nearby Mondi forest and arrested two men. One was riding the bicycle stolen from Coslett. The laptop was not recovered.

Coslett’s shock at the incident was tempered by a feeling of relief that the men had not harmed the children or her. She warned others to take precautions against criminal activity.

“Crime in Hilton has gone insane in the past week, and there are lots of single women who live in Hilton.”

Budhram said more arrests are expected and that the investigation is at a sensitive stage. One of the men arrested was from Mpumlanga province.

He also confirmed that there had been an upsurge in crime in Hilton in the past week, and that the possibility that the gang was responsible for the other four or five incidents of house-breakings cannot be ruled out.

The Witness is aware of two other incidents of home invasions in Hilton within the past week and a half, where women have awoken to find men inside their homes.

“It appears that this gang is preying on women who are alone. Women especially must be security conscious at all times,” said Budhram.

He urged people to get remote panic buttons to keep on themselves at all times and to call the police immediately if they hear suspicious noises.

Coslett said her home was burgled three weeks prior to the home invasion.





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