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28 October 2011 at 13:04 - Posted by Anonymous

Criminals dress up to gain access to homes


A gang of robbers got past the security at the boom gate of a Hyde Park suburb and another guard at the entrance to the house that they tried to ransack by pretending to be from the pool cleaning service.

Police now believe fronting as a service provider could be a new modus operandi of robbers. They are warning home owners to be suspicious of service providers they expect at their homes.

This break-in came one month after The Star reported how two men ransacked a Craighall Park home after they pretended to be from the landscaping service.

The men had carried a lawnmower and a ladder on the back of the bakkie, getting the domestic worker to open for them. In 30 minutes the men had cleaned out the house.

In the Hyde Park case, the men, driving a white bakkie, allegedly wore the same uniforms as the pool cleaning service contracted to the house. And their bakkie had the same sticker on the right hand side door as that of the pool company. They even had a canister of pool cleaning acid in the back of the bakkie.

They, however, only got away with two cell phones, an undisclosed amount of money and a firearm stolen from the guard at the gate of the house.

The four men, who were all armed, had tied up the homeowner and her two staffers – but they were interrupted when the domestic worker broke free and went to call for help.

A police source close to the investigation, who could not be named, said the men were clever.

“The men had even managed to get past the family’s butler, who found it strange for them to be visiting on a Tuesday when they had visited on Friday,” he explained.

“The pool cleaning service comes every Friday. The men must have known that. When the butler asked them why they were there on a Tuesday, they said the owner was away on a trip and would not make it on their usual day, asking them to come in earlier than expected.”

The butler had apparently found it strange as the pool was still clean but led the men to the pool.

“Once they got to the pool, they told him it was a hold-up. They took both his cellphones and went to find the domestic worker and the home owner,” he said.

All three were tied up and held in the house. But the domestic worker, whose hands were loosely tied together, managed to untie herself and escape to find help.

The men, realising one of the three people tied up had disappeared, fled from the premises, confiscating the firearm of the security guard at the gate.

The source said there was a suspicion that it was an inside job as the men had known there were three people in the house at the time and knew that the pool service came weekly.

“The butler also said that later when he thought about it, he found it strange for there to be four men on the bakkie. Usually the pool cleaning services company only arrived with one other assistant,” said the source.

Bramley Police spokesman Warrant Officer Moses Mapakela said the modus operandi used by the suspects appeared to be a new trick to gain access to people’s homes.

“The police are appealing to the community, if you know someone is coming to your house get the particulars and let your domestic workers know,” said Mapakela.

“The employee should have a name of someone they should expect and they should be able to call you to check out anyone who they do not feel comfortable with,” said Mapakela.

He said in the past “clever” criminals have used Telkom, Eskom or City Power stickers to gain access to homes.

“The festive season is coming up. People need to be alert. Criminals are using all kinds of tricks to get into people’s homes,” said Mapakela.

He warned residents to tell critical people only that they were going on holiday and that they should stop newspaper and postal deliveries while away as this was one way in which criminals could tell whether or not there was activity at the house. - The Star

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