Sub­urb joins forces against ‘stun-gun’ gang

Au­thor­i­ties vow to nail rob­bers

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - THANDANANI MHLANGA

AU­THOR­I­TIES in the south­ern sub­urbs have joined forces against the so-called stun-gun gang be­lieved to be be­hind at least eight house rob­beries in the re­gion.

Res­i­dents are con­cer ned af­ter a spate of house rob­beries in which at­tack­ers were armed with a range of weapons, in­clud­ing stun guns.

The in­ci­dents, dat­ing back to Fe­bru­ary, in­clude the stab­bing of a Con­stan­tia man in the stom­ach dur­ing a rob­bery at his Charles Way home.

One of three rob­bers, who were dressed in uni­for ms re­sem­bling those worn by Chubb se­cu­rity guards, was al­legedly armed with a Taser.

In an­other in­ci­dent in April, three men, one of whom was al­legedly armed with a stun gun, held a Con­stan­tia fam­ily cap­tive.

Al­though the Taser was not used in the rob­bery, po­lice said it was the sec­ond sim­i­lar in­ci­dent in the im­me­di­ate area in three months, af­ter an­other Taser-wield­ing trio tied up a Con­stan­tia fam­ily of four and robbed them of their valu­ables.

In this case, men sur­prised a Con­stan­tia res­i­dent just af­ter he pulled into his drive­way in Ever­est Close. Two of the men had firearms, while the third car­ried a weapon that re­sem­bled a stun gun. The rob­bers made off with the fam­ily’s valu­ables and stole their car.

In the first re­ported in­ci­dent in Fe­bru­ary, six men struck a Plum­stead home at about 9pm, mak­ing off with the fam­ily’s SUV filled with stolen goods. At least five of the men were armed with firear ms, while one car­ried a stun gun.

Diep River po­lice have iden­ti­fied at least eight sim­i­lar in­ci­dents in the area.

Kirsten­hoff Com­mu­nity Fo­rum chair­man Geoff Fox, said: “What should be known is that there is a con­certed ef­fort by all par­ties in­volved to deal with the sit­u­a­tion be­cause it can’t go on like this.”

The in­ci­dents were oc­cur­ring ev­ery two to three weeks in dif­fer­ent ar­eas. How­ever, not all the rob­beries in­volved the car­ry­ing of a Taser and no Taser had ac­tu­ally been used in any of the rob­beries so far.

Po­lice spokesman War­rant Of­fi­cer Keith Chan­dler said the stun-gun gang, orig­i­nally called the Taser gang, had been iden­ti­fied af­ter a num­ber of ar med rob­beries in three sub-sec­tions of the south­ern sub­urbs.

The only sim­i­lar­ity be­tween the in­ci­dents was the use of a stun gun.

“The rob­beries hap­pen at night or early morn­ing. It seems the rob­bers fol­low the vic­tims home, but not from one par­tic­u­lar place. We sus­pect they drive around be­fore they spot a vic­tim.”

The po­lice could not say whether a sin­gle gang was be­hind the attacks.

Chan­dler said most of the rob­beries oc­curred in Con­stan­tia, where roads were poorly lit.

Po­lice said their in­ves­ti­ga­tion was fur­ther com­pli­cated by the fact that vic­tims gave dif­fer­ent de­scrip­tions of the sus­pects, Chan­dler said.

BKM Watch chair man Wayne Wein­mann said the rob­beries had been hap­pen­ing on an ir­reg­u­lar ba­sis and there was no ap­par­ent pat­tern to them.

“A va­ri­ety of ve­hi­cles are be­ing used. They would ob­vi­ously be eas­ier to iden­tify if they were us­ing the same ve­hi­cle, but there’s been no con­sis­tency.”

Wein­mann said it was for­tu­nate no one had been se­ri­ously hurt dur­ing any of the rob­beries.

“The best ad­vice we can give peo­ple is to be alert for strange ve­hi­cles or strange peo­ple hang­ing around in their street. We’ve told peo­ple to be on the look-out and if they see some­thing sus­pi­cious as they’re about to drive into their drive­way, to drive past and only go in when they think it’s safe.”

Ward 73 councillor Carol Bew, who rep­re­sents the Bergvliet, Con­stan­tia, Diep River and Plum­stead area, said res­i­dents were “ter­ri­bly concerned”. “But we are aware of the sit­u­a­tion and we are watch­ing it closely.”

She said the po­lice, the lo­cal CPF, and the neigh­bour­hood watch were now do­ing reg­u­lar pa­trols.

There has been a re­luc­tance to speak to the me­dia from some au­thor­i­ties and com­mu­nity lead­ers in the south­ern sub­urbs.

Fox said there was con­cern that in­for­ma­tion leaked to the me­dia could give the sus­pects in­for ma­tion that would en­cour­age them to change their tac­tics.

The com­mu­nity was work­ing with the po­lice to re­solve the sit­u­a­tion.

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