Pick­pock­ets tar­get­ing party-go­ers

Syn­di­cates in Camps Bay

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ZARA NI­CHOL­SON

PARTY-GO­ERS in Camps Bay have been warned to guard their pos­ses­sions as skilled pick­pock­et­ing syn­di­cates are be­lieved to be op­er­at­ing in the area. Po­lice said fre­quent in­ci­dents of pick­pock­et­ing were tak­ing place at some of the most exclusive clubs in Camps Bay, where wealthy tourists and lo­cals party.

Last Sun­day the door men and man­age­ment of Karma Lounge in the Prom­e­nade on Vic­to­ria Road searched two men who al­legedly had cell­phones hid­den in their un­der­wear. Joseph Zamvi and Aaron Pu Nyuka ap­peared in the Cape Town Mag­is­trate’s Court on Tues­day on charges of be­ing in pos­ses­sion of stolen items. They are due back in court on Fe­bru­ary 19.

Door­man Siyanda “The Chico” Dl­wenga said he picked up a cam­era, and was ap­proached by a man who claimed it be­longed to him. Just then a woman came up and said it was her cam­era. Dl­wenga be­came sus­pi­cious and the club’s man­age­ment called the po­lice. They searched the man and found two cell­phones in his un­der­wear.

On other oc­ca­sions wal­lets, cam­eras and IDs have gone miss­ing.

The sum­mer is the most lu­cra­tive sea­son for venues along Vic­to­ria Road and club own­ers have said that thieves are aware of the type of crowd drawn to the area. An­drew Lee, owner of Karma Lounge, said the per­pe­tra­tors were usu­ally well-dressed and blended well with the crowd. “It’s guys and girls and they are taught what to do and how to do it eas­ily. They pick the top venues be­cause that’s where the top loot is.”

Karma posted a warn­ing and an apol­ogy on Face­book this week alert­ing its pa­trons about the theft of cell­phones on Sun­day. “On be­half of Karma’s man­age­ment we would like to apol­o­gise for the mass pick­pocket- ing sit­u­a­tion that occurred last night. One in­di­vid­ual was ar­rested, whose brother ‘ap­par­ently’ was steal­ing the phones. Hope­fully po­lice ques­tion­ing will get us a bit fur­ther. If any of the girls and guys whose phone, IDs, cash, cam­eras was stolen re­ceive this mes­sage, please feel free to re­ply and we will give you all the info we have so far.”

Lee said crime in clubs was a “night­mare”. “We try to make peo­ple as aware as pos­si­ble and we have a cloak­room where you can check in your valu­ables, which no one uses. Peo­ple need to re­alise that th­ese are pro­fes­sional gangs, trained by syn­di­cates and we don’t know who they are.” Lee said peo­ple needed to be more wary. “If we do find any­thing in a club we go out of our way to find the owner and re­turn their things. One day a Ger­man guy left his wal­let be­hind with R3 500 and credit cards. He called and said he knew he would not get the money back but he just wanted his cards – and I told him we had ev­ery­thing.”

Lee urged pa­trons to keep their cell­phones in closed pock­ets and not to leave their be­long­ings on ta­bles or couches. “Tourists leave their cell­phones and credit cards on the bar or the ta­bles and you just can’t do that.”

In the past month the club’s man­age­ment caught three men in the act of pick­pock­et­ing, but Lee said there were prob­a­bly about 15 in­ci­dents.

Po­lice spokesman Su­per­in­ten­dent An­dre Traut said other in­ci­dents had been re­ported by lo­cal clubs and busi­nesses in the area.

“Sev­eral sim­i­lar in­ci­dents were re­ported be­tween De­cem­ber 1 and Jan­uary 14. Af­ter an­other ar­rest, for the al­leged theft of a cell­phone at Nando’s, Richard Mudziviri ap­peared in the Cape Town Mag­is­trate’s Court on Jan­uary 4.”

‘They are well dressed… They pick the top venues, that’s where the loot is’

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