Robbers are targeting school children during the holidays by getting them to open the doors to their homes in Wynberg, Grassy Park and Steenberg.
Police warned parents to tell their children not to talk to strangers, and to especially make contact with their parents before opening the door to people who they don’t know.
Wynberg resident Patience Booi wanted to pack her bags and leave after a television and a laptop were stolen from her home of nine years.
Her 14-year-old nephew, who came to stay at her home for the holidays, called her to say that two men came to take the television, on Friday June 24, at 1pm. Her nephew said the men even knew his name.
She said the boy asked the two men if he could phone his aunt to confirm whether they could take the television, but they told him they had no airtime, and it would be fine to let them in.
“My nephew was scared and he actually let them in. The men apparently looked around and went to my room, didn’t take anything, then to my boarder’s room,” said Ms Booi.
“There they took the flatscreen TV as well as a laptop. They told the boy they would be back at 3.30pm.”
One man wore a tracksuit “too small for him” and the other one wore a red cap. One of the men told the boy to look into a cupboard and as he did so, they left the house with the television and laptop, in a white Jetta.
Ms Booi said this seemed like a planned robbery as a neighbour said they had seen two suspicious looking men around the house at 8.30am. “They were probably knocking on my door and no one answered because my nephew was still sleeping. He was with me for the holidays, but I sent him back to his parents. It is not safe for him alone in the house. I always warn my own two sons not to open the door for anyone.”
Southern Mail previously reported on cases where children were targeted by criminals during the April school holidays (“Men wanted for triple robbery in Lotus River”, Southern Mail April, 2016).
A Lotus River mother was robbed on Friday April 8 while her eight-year-old daughter and 11 year-old son were at home.
The woman, who was at work at the time and wanted to stay anonymous, told the Southern Mail that her daughter was at their front gate when two men stopped near the house in a blue Mk1 Golf and asked her questions about the family.
The daughter didn’t want to answer the questions and as she went inside the house, the man followed her.
“He saw that there was no adult and proceeded to take my electronic tablet, R500, our TV and a watch.”
Grassy Park police revealed that a similar method targeting children had been used on two other occasions on the same day – one in Lotus River and one on Steenberg.
Warrant Officer Wynita Kleinsmith said at about 1pm a man stopped a young boy in Lotus River and took his house keys.
In Steenberg, the two men struck again at about 1.10pm pretending to sell perfume. Two 13-year old boys were taken after their aunt was approached to buy perfume.
The suspects told the boys to go with them to fetch more perfume. That’s when the boys were taken along with a laptop. None of the children were harmed.
Meanwhile, Warrant Officer Kleinsmith, told Southern Mail that yet another incident happened on Monday June 27, between 2pm and 4pm.
A minor reported that a woman knocked on the door and asked if her mother was at home. The minor told the woman that she was alone. The woman then asked for toilet paper, which the minor went to fetch. After taking it the woman left.
Warrant Officer Kleinsmith said: “Later, the same woman came back as if to see if the mother was back. When the girl opened the door, a man pushed past her. The woman and man threatened her with a knife and took various items from the house.”
A case of house robbery was opened and is being investigated.
Grassy Park SAPS appeal to the community to inform their children to be more vigilant, and to make use of a secret password that only the parent and the child know to be used if new arrangements have to be made, for example, if somebody the child does not know has to suddenly fetch them from school or come to fetch something at the house when they are alone.
If a stranger without the password approaches the child and attempts to drive them away or enter the home, they should make a noise and run away or refrain from opening the door.
Report suspicious cars and people to Grassy Park police at 021 700 3900 or call the emergency number 10111.