This getaway car did not quite get away. Captured leaving Vicky du Preez's home after failing to gain access at noon, a video of the crooks' vehicle was captured by surveilance cameras at Vicky's brother's business, Thompson's Motors. It is a dark grey Renault Megane.
Date: 08 October 2018 By: Jo Robinson
Residents are once again warned to be wary of thieves trying to gain entrance to their homes by posing as potential house buyers or clients.
The two female thieves' modus operandi is to gain access to homes by informing domestic workers that they are interested in purchasing the property, or unsuspecting business owners that they are interested in their services.
In the house-buying scam, they then get very excited about really wanting to buy the house and one of them leaves a note with her “name” and cellphone number. Before they leave, however, one of the women suddenly develops an upset stomach and asks to use a toilet. The other thief then keeps the domestic worker occupied while the supposed toilet user rifles through cupboards and jewellery boxes for loot.
In October last year, the Zoutpansberger reported an incident where two women arrived at around 11:00 at the home of Charl Haasbroek in Joubert street and asked to look at the house, which did not have a “For Sale” sign up even though the property was for sale at the time. The two convinced Haasbroek’s domestic worker of their genuine interest in purchasing the home, so she allowed them to enter and look around. During the course of this viewing, one of the women asked if she could use the toilet as she had a “terribly upset stomach”. The domestic worker allowed her to use the en suite toilet in the master bedroom unsupervised. Apparently ecstatic about the house, the “buyer” left a note saying “Can you pls call me when you come home. I want to talk to you about the house. I really want to talk to you!!!” The name used on the note was Sharon Nkuna.
After phoning the number left by “Sharon” several times without being able to have a proper conversation with the woman, Haasbroek stopped trying to get hold of her, and it was only the following morning that he and his wife Tillie realised that they had actually been robbed. Tillie’s jewellery box had been pillaged by the thieving pair, who clearly had some knowledge of value as they only took the more expensive items in the box. On further inspection, the couple realised that they had also been robbed of a camera. They were devastated at the loss of irreplaceable family treasures, such as a gold ring given to Tillie by her mother before she passed away.
Shortly thereafter, the two con artists approached Annelize Mocke, who has an interior design company, under the guise of wanting interior decorating done. Once again one of the pair developed an urgent stomach problem and went to the toilet while the other kept Mocke occupied in her study. On this occasion, the thieves got away with jewellery, a cellphone and two computer tablets. Mocke said that the two were both carrying capacious handbags, which she realised in retrospect were purposefully intended to hide their planned ill-gotten gains.
Ms Vicky du Preez was the latest target of these “house-buying” thieves, who infiltrate homes in broad daylight and try to manipulate residents or their employees into allowing one of the pair of crooks access to a toilet because of an “upset tummy”.
Luckily for Vicky, the lady who works in her home was not having anyone she did not know enter the house at all and directed them to Thompson’s Motors in Hlanganani Road where Vicky works for her brother, Quintin Thompson. The would-be thieves got into their vehicle and drove away instead after leaving a note for Vicky to call them. When Vicky saw it, she instantly smelled a rat after she remembered seeing the same handwriting in the article previously published by the Zoutpansberger after the Haasbroek robbery.
Not only did she realise that the handwriting and the name “Sharon Nkuna” were by the same offender, she also quickly realised that her brother Quintin had surveillance cameras in place, covering all the areas in and around the vehicle dealership. After looking through the tapes, they found the culprits leaving her home across the road and then rounding the corner. Even though the number plate is a little hard to read, the vehicle is nevertheless seen very clearly. It is a dark grey Renault Megane with what appear to be the numbers 681 on the number plate between the slightly more illegible letters. (In another report, either the same scammers or others using the same methods have also been seen using a red Mini Cooper and a white BMW.)
Vicky says that she phoned the number on the note (073 232 9776) and her phone’s caller ID let her know that it was an MTN line, registered to someone named Isak. She phoned the number several times, informing the criminals of her actions, namely that she had reported them to the authorities and that their underhanded activities were fully known. By sharing this information, Vicky wants to ensure that the community is aware that these thieves are back in town, and to be on guard. She advises residents not to let anyone into their homes, regardless of how badly they say that they need to use the toilet.
Jo joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in 2018 pursuing a career in journalism after many years of writing fiction and non-fiction for other sectors.