Red alert at robots

SANDTON - Two Caxton staff members were among the victims of a new robbery tactic being used by criminals.

Rather than smashing a window and grabbing what they can, criminals are robbing motorists at gunpoint while they’re stuck in traffic.

Kyle Marais, who works at Caxton’s Johannesburg North office, was in peak afternoon traffic heading north on William Nicol Drive. He had stopped at the intersection of Republic Road at a red light when a man shouted “hey buddy”. His window was open slightly as he was smoking a cigarette and Marais tried to close it, thinking it was a beggar or hawker. The man stopped the window from closing with his hand and then pushed it down.

“He said ‘I don’t want to shoot you’,” said Marais, “Then he reached in and turned off the car. He noticed the GPS and reached for it and I reacted by hitting his hand, then he replied ‘look’, and I said ‘look at what?'” A second man had appeared at his side, pointing a gun. Marais gave them his phone and wallet. They asked for a laptop and Marais told them he didn’t have one.

“By then the robots were about to change and the robber tried to turn the key again but couldn’t. The person behind me started hooting and the guys fled.”

He described the first man as tall, in his early to mid-thirties, wearing a tatty leather jacket. The second man was short, in his mid to late twenties, and wore a yellow Bafana Bafana T-shirt.

Marais said when he reported the incident at the Sandton police station he was told that there had been a few other recent victims of this modus operandi.

Fourways Review reporter Daniella Potter’s story matched Marais’ almost verbatim. She was robbed in April or May at the same location, at the same time of day by three men, two of whom matched Marais’ description. She added that after the men took her phone, occupants of a nearby car rolled their window down and as to cover up their actions one of the robbers said, “Just two rand please madam.” They then fled.

Sandton police spokesperson Captain Kym Cloete confirmed that it was a new trend and added that victims were targeted because their windows were open. She said that hotspots were the intersections along Witkoppen Road and William Nicol Drive in Sandton and Fourways.

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