NELSON Mandela Bay police are investigating whether a syndicate is behind the spike in the number of vehicles stolen in the city in recent months, with up to 50 stolen a week.
Suburbs hardest hit include Walmer, Humewood and the Mount Road area, with criminals targeting 4×4 bakkies and the Toyota Yaris and Tazz models.
Police spokeswoman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg confirmed the increase after police returned Otto and Barbra Rath’s Land Rover three months after it had been stolen from their driveway in Central.
The 2003 Land Rover was stolen on May 11 and was registered immediately in the name of a new owner, the police said. It was found in Coffee Bay at the weekend.
The Raths were elated when they arrived at the Mount Road police station yesterday after being contacted by members of the police’s vehicle identification unit.
“We had been hearing rumours that the vehicle was somewhere in Transkei. Usually I am a very optimistic person, but last week I told [Otto] there was no chance of getting it back. I almost cried when I saw it parked here this morning,” Barbra said.
She commended the police for their good work.
The car was in good condition, although the canopy and part of the roof was missing.
Otto, 68, said he and Barbra, 66 – both 4×4 enthusiasts – had had “enough” of the bad experiences in the metro and were moving to the Western Cape to start a new chapter.
Janse van Rensburg said police had been following up leads which led them to Mthatha and the Coffee Bay area.
“The officers returned to Coffee Bay on Friday where they made some observation on a specific place,” she said.
On Sunday, the officers spotted the white Land Rover parked in front of a rondavel while the driver proceeded inside.
“Our members decided to enter the rondavel because the driver was taking too long.
“But as they got inside, the driver apparently used a different exit,” Janse van Rensburg said.