A couple dubbed the Garden Route’s Bonny and Clyde has been targeting homeowners across the Western Cape, impersonating prospective buyers while stealing hundreds of thousands of rands worth of valuables and cash when viewing the homes – YOLANDE STANDER reports
JUST over a week ago the two suspects – a 33-year-old man and 43-year-old woman – targeted a Plett homeowner who they allegedly robbed while she was showing them around.
Their spree however came to an end in Port Elizabeth on August 8 when they were arrested in connection with these crimes after ostensibly trying a similar ploy in Summerstrand.
Estate agents have been circulating a notice warning colleagues about the couple – whose names are known to CXPRESS – and providing information on their modus operandi after they allegedly stole R80’000 worth of jewellery from a house in Brackenfell some months ago.
Cape Town police spokesman lieutenant Marchell Roode said police had received reports about a woman, wearing heavy make-up, and a man driving a white Ford Bantam bakkie, convincing estate agents that they were interested in purchasing a home.
Once inside, one would distract the agent or homeowner while the other would search the house for valuables.
Roode confirmed two cases were also reported in Durbanville and that the couple would walk out of these homes with items worth between R50’000 and R60’000 at a time. They used false names – Pieter and Louise Rossouw – when introducing themselves.
Beatrice Henning from Plett said she had been approached by a couple on August 2 at about 4pm wanting to view her home. “My house is for sale and they told me they were desperately looking to buy a home for the man’s mother,” said Henning.
She showed the two around, but once inside the main bedroom, the man stood in front of her dresser – where her jewellery was kept – unusually long.
“The woman distracted me and asked about the bathroom while the man remained in the bedroom.”
Only after they had left did she notice that her jewellery was missing. “I had a bad feeling about them. They took three rings, necklaces and other jewellery. The one ring alone is worth about R20’000.”
They also targeted a Stellenbosch lawyer, Tania Jooste, last month, allegedly stealing about R60’000 worth of jewellery and an iPod. Among the items taken were business cards, which the woman reportedly started giving out to estate agents, claiming she was a lawyer.
Jooste said after the incident she had started receiving calls from Garden Route estate agents, asking if she had been to their show houses – where items went missing too.
“I realised someone was committing identity theft and using my business cards to impersonate me. This, however, helped police track their movements,” said Jooste.
Other towns hit by the two include Oudtshoorn, Sedgefield and George.
Jooste reported the matter to eBlockwatch and information was spread among its 86’000 members. Jooste’s secretary also recognised the man in a picture of the couple that was circulated, so helping authorities to ascertain their real names.
Founder Andre Snyman said since the information was added to the eBlockwatch website, other homeowners and agents also came forward. “We had reports of similar incidents in George and on Knysna’s Leisure Isle,” Snyman said.
Head of the eBlockwatch task team Annelize Jerling informed Port Elizabeth police after a couple believed to be the show-house robbers attempted a similar ploy in Summerstrand.
PE police spokesman captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said local police found a suspicious bakkie in Strandfontein Road with a couple fitting the description. After searching the vehicle they found gold watches, jewellery and perfume.
“They were arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen goods and will appear in court on Monday. We believe they could be linked to other cases in Port Elizabeth too,” said Janse van Rensburg.
Garden Route Media
Article source: http://www.cxpress.co.za/showArticle.asp?aid=9441