Crime busters pounce again

2015-07-06 12:03
Some of the items recovered by the Combined Action Team (CAT) after they bust the notorious ‘Balaclava Gang’ in Scottsville on Friday night.

Some of the items recovered by the Combined Action Team (CAT) after they bust the notorious ‘Balaclava Gang’ in Scottsville on Friday night. (Supplied)

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A CRACK crime-fighting team have taken down the notorious “Balaclava Gang” that was responsible for more than 30 robberies in the Scottsville ­area in recent months.

After a crime spike in the area over the past three months, where ­University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) students became the prime targets of a “ruthless” gang of robbers who masked themselves in balaclavas, ­Pietermaritzburg’s crime-busting unit the Combined Action Team (CAT) was last week tasked to bring down the syndicate.

The gang is thought to have been responsible for a series of robberies of students walking back to their ­residences from campus, as well as of other Scottville residents whose homes were targeted.

CAT arrested the four-man gang on Friday night, and also located the ­person who bought their stolen items.

The four, who dressed smartly and wore balaclavas during their crime spree, armed themselves with knives, pangas and gas-guns.

Alexandra police station commander Colonel Phillip Mlambo said the gang members were “more ruthless” than the Five-Minute Gang, who burgled homes when owners were away and cleaned them out in less than five minutes.

The Balaclava Gang instead attacked residents while they were in their homes, tying them up before ransacking through their belongings.

“We took this gang very seriously as they committed six of the eight house robberies reported in June alone.

“As a station commander, it gives you sleepless nights.

“We commend the members of CAT for bringing down the syndicate,” Mlambo said.

The gang targeted students and homes in St Patrick’s Road, Maud ­Avenue, Golf Road and King Edward Avenue. In their most recent attack, the gang targeted a home in King Edward Avenue on Thursday night, ­confronting eight people, whom they tied up before ransacking the house.

CAT chief operations manager Nobin Karien said Mlambo approached the team for help on Tuesday last week.

CAT members then spent the ­following nights in unmarked vehicles, observing the roads targeted by the gang.

There was a breakthrough on Friday night, when the team spotted four men, dressed casually “like students with school bags”, who were loitering around Maud Avenue.

The team saw that the men became nervous when police vehicles passed by.

Shortly after, CAT pounced on the four, aged 25 to 30, finding house-breaking implements, balaclavas and knives in their bags.

According to Karien, the men admitted they were scouting a house in Maud Avenue.

After questioning the men further, CAT was led to their homes in Slangspruit, outside Oribi, where they found stolen items including laptops, iPads, PlayStation consoles, watches, cellphones and Krugerrand coins.

The men then gave the team information on the whereabouts of man who fenced their loot.

CAT traced the fence to his home on Church Street, where they found flatscreen TVs, laptops, cellphones and more PlayStation consoles.

The man was arrested and charged with possession of stolen items.

Karien said the gang worked closely with a taxi operator who would fetch them after they committed their crimes.

“I want to commend the operation leader, Warrant Officer Reno Dayaram, on a job well done. Some of the men have already confessed to their crimes,” Karien said.

UKZN spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said the institution welcomed “this positive development in rooting out any criminal activity in our communities”.

“We commend the police for their hard work and hope that this results in a successful prosecution,” he said.

The five are expected to appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court today.

Meanwhile, in another operation last week, CAT brought down a ­carjacking syndicate operating in the Eastwood area after locating their “chop shop” in Maqonqgo on ­Thursday night.

Karien said one man was apprehended in Eastwood on Thursday night for the theft of a Toyota Camry.

The man gave information to the team, pointing out two other men involved in the syndicate.

Swift action by CAT members resulted in the arrest of the two men, who in turn led the team to a chop shop in Maqongqo, just outside the Table Mountain area.

At the chop shop, CAT recovered four other vehicles and various car parts

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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