Man’s smoke break-out

2014-01-30 00:00

WHILE security guards verified the ownership of the electronic gadgets found on a suspected serial thief at the Department of Land Affairs, they allowed him to walk outside for a cigarette, giving him the gap he needed to make a run for it.

The man is now wanted for allegedly stealing personal items from staff at several KwaZulu-Natal government departments.

He is believed to have gained access to the departmental offices by pretending to visit people who worked there.

Police allege he has stolen from the offices of the departments of Human Settlement, Transport, and Land Affairs.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said on Thursday last week, security guards at the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform recovered a bag containing an official’s laptop, a Samsung Galaxy cellphone, an iPad and a portable HDD TV.

He added that the man allegedly stole the items while the manager was out of his office at a meeting. He was stopped at the security checkpoint on his way out and asked why he had a laptop, when he walked in without one.

“The suspect told them that while they follow up on the ownership [of the items] he would have a cigarette outside.”

Zwane said the security guards identified the laptop as being government property, but when they went to look for the suspected thief, he had disappeared.

Land Affairs spokesperson Sipho Dlamini said the police were called when the alleged theft was discovered, “but he managed to escape before the police could arrive”.

Human Settlements spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi said a man had been caught on CCTV cameras stealing personal items belonging to staff, such as cellphones, from their offices.

He said they would be strengthening security access controls in all their offices and have asked staff to be vigilant, particularly when leaving personal items such as cellphones, wallets and purses at their work stations. He added that since the incident they have asked that all outside visitors be accompanied by the officials they have an appointment with.

“Visitors will be fetched from the security personnel at the reception or foyer and escorted back to the security desk,” said Baloyi.

He added that the theft at the Department of Human Settlements had not been reported to the police, and will be dealt with internally.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the suspect should contact investigating officer Warrant Offi­cer Umesh Deapersad on 033 845 2759 or 072 095 4373 or Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

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