Cigarette theft on the increase

Shaun Gillham

TOBACCO companies are being forced to deploy heavy security to safeguard their products during distribution following a significant increase in the armed robbery of vehicles transporting cigarettes in Nelson Mandela Bay and around South Africa.

And security, according to British American Tobacco (BAT) South Africa, will be substantially beefed up in the Bay following yesterday’s armed robbery and hijacking of a BAT delivery van, two security guards and their vehicles in the city centre.

In the third robbery of its kind in the Bay in just more than a month, six men, some of whom were armed, stormed the BAT van and the two security vehicles guarding a shipment of cigarettes near the Department of Home Affairs offices in Govan Mbeki Avenue at about 8.15am.

Police said the men hijacked the three vehicles, drove to Red Location near New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, where they unloaded some of the cigarettes, then fled in a bakkie and a sedan.

When The Herald arrived at the scene shortly after 9.30am, police officers and forensics specialists were swarming over the scene, photographing evidence and searching for fingerprints.

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