A man who burgled his employer’s house on The Island and left a threatening note was obviously so impressed with his work that he signed it. This eventually led to his undoing.
On Saturday 20 August Johan Lombard was at home on Lorraine Street, The Island, having lunch with his family. He hadn’t been inside long when he realised he had left his wallet in his bakkie which had been parked around the back of his house. When he went outside he found the wallet was lying open on the floor of his vehicle. All the cash was gone.
“Whoever took it must have known to walk around the whole house to find the vehicle,” he later reasoned.
The next day he and his wife and two young children spent the afternoon canoeing on Swartvlei. On their arrival home at about 5.45pm, he heard the noise of gushing water from the toilet attached to his garage. He went to investigate and saw the top of the cistern had been crushed – it seemed obvious that someone had climbed on hit as there were foot marks on the wall behind.
“The water was gushing out , but hadn’t pooled on the floor yet,” said Lombard “So I realised that whatever had happened, it must have happened only seconds earlier.”
He shouted to his wife, Karen, to call the police. She did this, asking the SAPS member to please hurry because the intruder may well still be in the nearby vicinity.
SAPS did not arrive at that stage and, after checking the garden, Johan took a drive around the neighborhood to see if any suspicious characters were lurking around.
He came across an ADT vehicle and told the driver the story. He was then given the number of a Neighborhood Watch member whom he called when he got back home. Whilst he had been driving, Karen had discovered that most of their electronic goods had been stolen.
Minutes after the call to the neighbourhood watch the whole place was buzzing with people. SAPS also arrived after a further call – and Johan later learned that the delay had been because a message hadn’t been passed on between the outgoing and incoming shifts.
“Once they were there they were exceptionally professional,” he said, “I was quite impressed.”
He went to work the following day and noticed that one of his staff members was absent. It was that evening, whilst sitting at his PC, that Johan found a chilling message scrawled on a piece of scrap paper on his desk.
“I want to kill you.” it read – with a signature next to it.
After staring at the horrifying note for a while, Johan started looking closely at the signature, thinking it was a little familiar. On a hunch he looked through his work receipts for places where his staff had signed and that’s where he found a match! According to Johan it was the same staff member who had missed work that day .
The next morning, after sleuthing around and asking questions, he learned of someone who claimed he had seen the man with a tablet, with a picture of a Lombard family member on it.
He rushed to the police station and shared this new information, only to get the surprise of his life a few minutes later, when the suspect himself walked in. He claimed that he had been looking for Johan to apologise for being late, and had been told his boss was at the station.
Sensing what was happening by Johan’s reaction, the Warrant Officer called the suspect over and informed him that he was a suspect. He later told Johan that he had asked him to write down the same threatening phrase and sign it – and this was another match!
Johan continued his investigation, tracing the suspect’s movements, and eventually found a home where a lot of his stolen goods had been stored. He also found several witnesses to the fact that the man had been seen with the stolen property. After returning to the station with this information, a detective went back with him to take statements from these witnesses.
Armed with all this information, they returned again to the station to fetch the suspect, and, after handcuffing him, asked him to take them to his home where more of the stolen property was recovered.
The investigation is still ongoing, but there’s no doubt that the next time this suspect uses his signature will be on his bail application.