Pretoria East’s notorious burglar – dubbed the Fence Ninja – has been finally caught.
With an uncanny ability to scale fences, he has been terrorising Garsfontein residents for the past nine months, Rekord East reported.
Police made a special effort to corner him in the past three months.
He was eventually caught at a Faerie Glen supermarket on Sunday morning.
Garsfontein police spokesperson Captain Ilze Jones said a reservist called for backup, and was assisted by two other reservists in arresting the man.
She said he was taken to Garsfontein Police Station and was expected to appear in court on Tuesday.
The man – a 36-year-old Mozambican of no known address – was linked to cases dating back to September last year.
These included cases of housebreaking, theft and trespassing.
The man prowled the suburb at night, usually in the early hours of midnight to 5am, and stole whatever he could lay his hands on.
He would take items in yards such as bicycles, and also reach into open windows and snatch valuables.
Residents alerted to his presence could not catch him, as he was so proficient at clearing walls and fences.
This earned him the nickname of Fence Ninja or ‘Tuindwergie’ in Afrikaans.
Residents were up in arms in March when the police released him after he was he was arrested by local security company Accon Solutions.
The police’s explanation was that no charges had been laid against the man.
This led to a community protest at the police station.
Station commander Colonel Kervin Solomons appealed to residents to lay charges.
The man brazenly continued operating in the suburb and evaded arrest.
However, the police had some details on him, residents had CCTV footage and the security company had taken photos of him.
‘Wanted’ posters were put up around the suburb and on social media.
The poster bore his photograph and description.
CEO of Accon Solutions Salmon Swart said this week a resident of Block 3 Johan Deysel – himself a victim of the thief – spotted the man at the local supermarket on Sunday morning.
He immediately issued a WhatsApp alert to the community.
Accon staff and police reservists responded, and he was arrested.
Swart said the security company had come close to apprehending the man about four times, but he managed to escape each time.
“He operated in the early mornings,and very often over weekends,” said Swart.
“He sometimes used a flashlight. He jumped over walls and took whatever he could find – bicycles, liquor, food, often from outside lapas.”
He would also take valuables like cellphones or laptops through open windows.
“He knows the area quite well. He jumped over walls, and he was good at it,” said Swart.
“Dogs seemed to know him. We have footage where he walks into property and two big dogs follow him.”
Swart said the man seemed to know where vicious dogs were, and avoided those properties.
He did not hurt anyone, and that is why the police did not prioritise his crimes.
Solomons lauded the networking of role players in the community.
“The CPFs, reservists and members of the security joined hands in the fight against crime and protecting the community of Garsfontein,” he said.
At the weekend, residents again took to social media to express their delight that he was behind bars.
– Caxton News Service