Efficient intelligence-gathering coupled with careful observation has led to a highly skilled remote-jamming syndicate being taken down by police this week.
Police teams comprised of officers from Organised Crime, the Combined Action Team (CAT), the K9 Unit and Flying Squad raced out of Pietermaritzburg with sirens blaring on Monday in pursuit of three men allegedly responsible for a spate of thefts out of motor vehicles in the city.
According to Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese, information was gathered by Organised Crime officers who then kept frequent watch on the alleged thieves, who are believed to have used remote jamming-devices to break into vehicles in the CBD and other areas.
According to a police source, the gang had been operating in Pietermaritzburg for “quite a while”, and Organised Crime officers had only been keeping tabs on them for about five days before the arrests were made. They had been operating in areas around the Bird Sanctuary, Victoria Road and Scottsville.
When the unit received information that the gang would be fleeing to Durban with stolen goods on Monday, they enlisted the help of CAT, the K9 Unit and Flying Squad members to make the bust.
The officers caught up to the gang on the N3 near the Umbumbulu turn-off where they boxed their car in with four police vehicles before forcing the car to a stop and arresting the three men inside.
The men, all well dressed in pants and formal shirts, were hauled out of the vehicle. Officers bound their hands behind their backs and made them lie on the ground as they searched through the vehicle.
Stolen electronic items including cellphones, laptops and tablets to the value of about R40 000, as well as remote-jamming devices, were recovered from the vehicle.
Ngobese said the men — identified as Nhlakanipho Bulose, Thamsanqa Mchunu and Thulani Bhengu — are believed to live in Durban, and one had been linked to a spate of remote-jamming incidents in that city.
The men appeared in the Pietermaritzburg magistrate’s court on Tuesday on charges of possession of stolen property. They were remanded until 8 September pending further investigations.
Remote-jamming has been a widespread problem in the city in recent months, with incidents reported almost daily.
Last month, The Witness reported that vehicle break-ins and remote-jamming were at the highest level ever seen in the CBD.
It was reported that more than 60 theft out of motor vehicle cases were reported specifically in Pietermaritzburg’s CBD area between July and 6 August, and, with thieves using remote jamming devices or simply bashing through windows, more than half a million rands worth of items were reported stolen from vehicles in just over a month. — The Witness