Tuesday 20th Aug 2019

Luke Folb - Weekend Argus - 

Police believe a gang of thieves are targeting Cape Town guest houses and hotels and making off with travellers’ luggage and valuables. The gang pose as guests. They call the guest house using fake foreign accents to tell staff an emergency has come up and they need to check out. As they head to the airport someone will pick up their luggage. The gang recently targeted a guest house in Green Point.

On February 10 an Austrian couple booked in for a 10-night stay but decided to leave two nights later. On February 18, the day they were due to return, a woman phoned the guest house and told an employee, Godwin Munyama, to pack their bags as there was a family emergency and they were heading to the airport. Later that day the Austrian couple returned to find their luggage had been stolen and Munyama immediately took them to the Sea Point police station, where a case of theft was opened.

At that stage all that had been stolen was clothing. But later that day the brazen thieves called Munyama again saying he had forgotten to pack their electronics. He called the police and a plan was made to arrest the perpetrators. Sergeant Wayne Henderson wore civilian clothing and drove an unmarked car during the operation.

“First they wanted me to go to the airport and then on the N2 the location changed to a hotel in Woodstock,” he said. “I waited outside the hotel for an hour and got another phone call to say I should leave it at reception but I said I couldn’t because it was valuable electronics.”

Henderson said he thought the perpetrators might have caught wind of the plan.

Police believe the thieves could be linked to rental car companies because they require details about where travellers are staying and are able to track the car as well. They say similar cases have happened at other hotels and guest houses in Cape Town over the past couple of months and believe the thefts are being perpetrated by the same people.

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