There has been an increasing trend of syndicate crime ‘touring’ the Garden Route this year, but the good news is that our crime fighters have been combining resources to take them on – and this is paying serious dividends.

No less than six gangs of thieves connected with organised theft have been arrested in the last month. Typically these syndicates have a similar ‘modus operandi’. They travel in groups of four or five in one or two vehicles, stopping at shopping centres in various towns to hit as many retail outlets as possible. They work in teams and move on to the next target before their misdeeds are discovered.

The latest of these busts occurred on 3 August. Anti-crime organisations were on the alert after receiving reports that an organised group of shoplifters were making their way up the coast, having already hit Mossel Bay, Hartenbos, Oudtshoorn and George. That same day, Michael Simon, a member of Sedgefield’s Community Orientated Policing (COP), who also works for Allsound Security in Knysna, was informed by Stuart Daniell of Sedgefield Pharmacy that four shoppers had been seen attempting to shoplift at his business.“I had been warned by my twin brother that this group had been in his pharmacy in George the day before,” Stuart told us, “There, they were seen taking items from the shelves and hiding them in a computer box they were carrying. When the pharmacy staff approached them, they dropped the box and ran.”
He said that when the four arrived in the Sedgefield pharmacy the next day, they split into twos. “We could see a couple of them were putting items under their jerseys, but they must have realised we knew what they were up to because they suddenly dumped everything back on a shelf and left,” he explained.

Stuart quickly called his older brother, who runs Village Pharmacy at Knysna Mall, to warn him. This proved a good move because it wasn’t long before the same group walked into the Knysna pharmacy. But once again, they clearly felt all eyes on them and soon left. Meanwhile, Stuart had alerted Allsound, and it was quickly discovered that the group had moved on to a clothing store where they were busy helping themselves to stock.

When the alarm was raised, security managed to apprehend two of the perpetrators whilst the other two escaped in a vehicle. Fortunately, video footage of the parking area revealed details of the Toyota Corolla used for their getaway.

The make, colour and plate numbers were swiftly circulated, and a tactical member of Allsound reported that he had seen the vehicle leaving Knysna. It was heading back in the direction of Sedgefield.

Three Allsound vehicles were deployed to follow the Corolla from Knysna, and the SAPS Crime Prevention Unit (CPU) and Flying Squad were radioed.

As the perpetrators entered Sedgefield, they were pulled over by the Flying Squad with the assistance of Allsound and COP. The occupants were taken into custody and charged with being in possession of suspected stolen property.

Amongst the goods in their possession were a number of stock items, with a value of over R2500, that they had, in fact, managed to steal from Sedgefield Pharmacy.

Michael Simon of COP/Allsound said, “This successful operation once again highlights the great results of teamwork between various role-players as they combat crime and work together for a safer community for us all.”

The criminals appeared in court on Thursday, 11 August, and at least two of them were found to have outstanding warrants of arrest. At time of going to press no details of future court dates