Johannesburg - Police are on high alert looking for a syndicate that uses donkeys to smuggle luxury cars across the Limpopo River into the Zimbabwe.
Thieves tied ropes to the cars which were hitched on to the donkeys to pull the cars across the river.
Some cars are driven through the drier parts of the river.
On Tuesday, a Mercedes Benz C220 was intercepted before it disappeared into Zimbabwe.
“Our members were just in time to pounce on them after the donkeys were apparently no longer able to pull it through the sand,” Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said.
The suspects fled into the bushes towards Zimbabwe side.
Most of the cars are being smuggled across the river through the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe, south of Beitbridge border post.
In December, police recovered a Hilux bakkie when thieves attempted to smuggle it through the river. The bakkie was stolen in Durban.
It was semi-submerged in the water when Limpopo police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nneke Ledwaba spotted it from a helicopter while he was leading a high-density operation in Musina and Beitbridge.
The vehicle and donkeys were abandoned in the middle of the river and the suspect fled into Zimbabwe.
Mojapelo said 13 vehicles have been recovered since January this year.
Thieves target luxury bakkies, SUV’s, specifically Toyota and Isuzu.
Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal are the two provinces that are mostly affected.
Last week, four vehicles were recovered.
A Range Rover worth R900 000 was recovered after police intercepted it at the Beitbridge border post. The vehicle was en route to Malawi.
The man was arrested and was found in possession of cash with an estimated amount of R30 000.
Mojapelo said the car had Limpopo registration numbers, but it was still unclear where it was stolen.