Five-minute gang hits again

2008-05-05 00:00

Go and buy the thickest chain and biggest padlock you can find and secure your driveway gate to your wall.

That’s the advice of Townhill Community Policing Forum chairman Stuart Knight, who told The Witness that residents in the affluent area must take proactive steps to protect their homes from members of the notorious “five-minute gang”.

He said chains on driveway gates would make it harder for the gang to gain access to their properties.

The quiet suburbs of Athlone and Montrose were abuzz with police and security services on Saturday afternoon as the gang allegedly struck two homes, and an unconfirmed third, in broad daylight in the mid-afternoon.

When The Witness arrived on the scene in Montgomery Drive, it was clear that the big guns had been brought in to deal with the situation, as police from the Dog Unit, highway patrol, flying squad and heavily armed security staff were searching for any trace of the suspects.

People driving and walking past were amazed to see the crowd of police there, and worriedly asked what was going on.

While the gang were unsuccessful in gaining entry to the Montgomery Drive home, homes in Davenport Road and Hosking Road were also targeted on Saturday.

Residents have said they suspect that the gang is going to ground in a garage in the area.

As reports of robberies came in, exits to the suburb were immediately sealed by police. However, the gang remain elusive.

A source described the situation in the posh suburbs as being “hot and tense” as the gang literally got away with daylight robbery.

Knight also warned that until the gang are apprehended, residents should try not to leave their homes unguarded. “If you have to leave the house, but your domestic worker is at home, make sure she has a portable panic button to raise the alarm.” This follows incidents in which two domestic workers were tied up by the gang.

Ward councillor for the area, Mark Steele of the DA, called on the province to make available all resources necessary to the police to enable them to catch the gang.

“This is cause for serious concern as they seem extremely sophisticated and ruthless. So far we have been lucky that there have been no casualties.”

He said the gang are not opportunistic. “They move with professional speed and maximum force, which indicates they could be extremely violent.”

He described the situation as a “city-wide and provincial emergency” and said he would welcome the formation of a task team to deal with the situation.

A victim of the “five-minute gang” has claimed that police reaction to his incident has not been satisfactory.

The man, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said that his home was hit two weeks ago and since then he has heard nothing from police.

“They [the gang] were in and out within minutes and I lost R500 000 worth of goods. The police took a statement at the time, but have not interviewed either my staff or a man who allegedly witnessed the incident.”

He said residents should take measures to protect themselves.

Knight said police are investigating intensively but are unable to provide feedback to victims at present due to the sensitivity of the investigation.

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