PRETORIA, May 21– Several suspects believed to be part of a vehicle hijacking syndicate have been arrested in multi-disciplinary operations over the past week, the South African Police Service (SAPS) in Gauteng said on Sunday.
During the last release of the crime statistics, the crime category of aggravated robbery, particularly the trio crimes of house robberies, business robberies, and car-jacking’s, was highlighted as being extremely problematic and concerning, spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said.
SAPS top management met early in March and drafted a national trio crimes action plan to tackle these crimes in a co-ordinated and focused manner, he said.
Last Friday, members of SAPS crime intelligence uncovered information about a hijacked BMW X5 which led to the arrest of four suspects in Middelburg.
Following further intelligence received, a team comprising of members the SAPS detective service, visible policing, special task force, vehicle crimes unit, and the Hawks supported by Tracker and Bidvest Protea Coin companies, arrested two more suspects in Lenesia, south of Johannesburg and recovered another nine luxury vehicles to the value of about R7 million, Naidoo said.
These vehicles included a Porche 911, BMW M3, Audi RS7, Mercedes Benz, Toyota Hilux double cab bakkie, Ford Ranger double cab bakkie, a Hyundai H1 minibus, and two motorcycles. The vehicles had been hijacked in various areas in and around Johannesburg and Pretoria, he said.
“The team also recovered a handheld radio and two firearms which will be ballistically tested to establish if they were used in the commission of any crimes. Approximately R600,000 in cash was also seized.”
The suspects were likely to face charges of being in possession of vehicles suspected to be stolen. Further charges could well be added as investigations and liaison with the prosecuting authority continued. The suspects were expected to appear in the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
“All role players are to be commended on this huge breakthrough which will undoubtedly disrupt organised carjacking’s and motor vehicle theft in Gauteng.
“As part of the implementation of the national trio crimes action plan, the SAPS is liaising and working closely with other role players in, inter alia, the security, banking, and vehicle industries and their support is appreciated. Investigations continue and more arrests cannot be ruled out,” Naidoo said.