Gang hits fourth school

2016-01-26 11:32
Mountain Rise Primary School principal Vasu Soobrayan and governing body member Themba Malinga inspect the damage after thieves broke into the school on Sunday night

Mountain Rise Primary School principal Vasu Soobrayan and governing body member Themba Malinga inspect the damage after thieves broke into the school on Sunday night (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - So brazen has the Gadget Gang become that its members have broken into yet another school and stolen computers, this time directly opposite one of the city’s biggest police stations.

The burglars broke through the roof of Mountain Rise Primary School on Sunday night, destroyed the alarm system and then smashed down the administration block’s front door to gain access.

The modus operandi is similar to three thefts last week at Scottsville, Athlone and Bisley Park primary schools, where the alarms were all disabled. The burglars, who have earned themselves the moniker “The Gadget Gang”, cleaned out the school computer rooms, and also stole computers from the administration blocks.

When The Witness visited Mountain Rise yesterday, there were several small holes in the roof, the alarm sensors and control panel had been broken, several doors were bashed open, and a green crowbar was left on a table. The gang had accessed the property by cutting a hole in the fence at the Greytown Road end of the property.

However, the alarm sent off a signal to the monitoring company just before it was destroyed, cutting their theft short.

According to school principal Vasu Soobrayan, the damage to school property would nevertheless be costly to repair.

“Our school fees are only R900 a year. We cannot even afford insurance. They stole five laptops, which we have no funds to replace, with important administration information on them,” he said.

Soobrayan said the security guards had opened the gate and patrolled the building just after midnight after the alarm was triggered, but saw nothing suspicious.

The principal was called again at 12.45 am when the burglary was discovered.

“Thankfully these guys were disturbed, as they could have taken a lot more including computers from the computer lab,” said Soobrayan.

Mountain Rise SAPS spokesperson Captain Gay Ebrahim said this was the second burglary of a school reported this month.

“SAPS Mountain Rise detectives will be investigating this case. If there is a need for further assistance, Project [CAT] members and SAPS Mountain Rise Crime Prevention members will assist by tracing the suspects.

“At this stage of the investigation the suspects are unknown. With the assistance of the community and informer network, we will be able to apprehend the suspects,” she said.

Themba Malinga, a police detective who sits on the school governing body, said it appeared that the burglars had lifted the roof tiles to find the alarm sensors that they had removed, and then entered through the front door, which they broke down.

School governing body chairperson Philda Gcaba said they would now need to raise funds to repair the school.

“We are appealing to the community who may be able to donate laptops to the school. It is hard to work without them,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  gadget gang  |  theft

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