Young tourists robbed just after arrival in PE

BAD START: German tourists, from left, Joana Hartmann, Marieke Berndmeyer and Greta Lochte, all 20, at the Humewood police station yesterday, shortly after their arrival in Port Elizabeth Picture: DEVON KOEN
BAD START: German tourists, from left, Joana Hartmann, Marieke Berndmeyer and Greta Lochte, all 20, at the Humewood police station yesterday, shortly after their arrival in Port Elizabeth
Picture: DEVON KOEN

Trio return from beachfront meal to find belongings stolen from hire car

A dream holiday for three young German tourists turned sour yesterday when the rental car they had just picked up was broken into along Port Elizabeth’s busy beachfront. Joana Hartmann, Greta Lochte and Marieke Berndmeyer, all aged 20 and from Hanover in Germany, had arrived in town by bus yesterday morning after spending a few days in Aliwal North.

They were having something to eat at White Tiger at the Dolphins Leap complex, and watching dolphins frolicking in the surf, when personal items were stolen from the car.

When they returned to their hired Hyundai i10, parked directly opposite where they had been, they found the key would not turn when they tried to unlock a door.

“I noticed a pair of my flip-flops lying on the ground. I thought I forgot them there when I changed shoes when we arrived [at White Tiger],” Hartmann said.

They then noticed that a large red backpack and smaller black rucksack with neon orange stripes were missing from the back seat.

Lochte said it looked as though the bags had been rifled through because a make-up bag was left on the seat.

“I don’t know how no one noticed someone breaking into the car. It was parked right by the water, there were people walking around and surfers, but no one saw anything,” Hartmann said.

“When we asked the man controlling the car park what happened, he said he didn’t notice anything.”

Items stolen included all of Lochte’s “sentimental” clothes she had bought in other countries she had visited, a laptop, binoculars, memory sticks, a digital camera and a cooler box.

A good Samaritan, who asked not to be named, said her daughter noticed the three women sitting next to their car in tears.

“My daughter asked them what was wrong. They told her and she called me, so I brought them to the [Humewood] police station,” she said.

Berndmeyer has been in South Africa since November, working as a volunteer at a creche in Goodwood in Cape Town.

Hartmann and Lochte joined her there late last month while on their semester break.

They had all been in Aliwal North before making their way to Port Elizabeth.

They were meant to arrive at the Addo Elephant Park yesterday for a three-day break before driving back to Cape Town.

They are scheduled to leave South Africa later this month.

Asked if the incident had tarnished their view of South Africa, all three said no and that they still thought South Africa was “a beautiful country”.

Police spokeswoman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said theft out of vehicles had become a “big problem” in Port Elizabeth and that victims should take their car for fingerprinting to assist police in their investigations.

8 thoughts on “Young tourists robbed just after arrival in PE

  • March 14, 2017 at 8:07 am
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    Some useful insight for those who are unaware or visit Port Elizabeth, along the beachfront area, not one of the car guards along the actual waterfront side are a constant, they make what money they want/need and give their security bib to the next one who then does the same and so on, they are often more intoxicated than the patrons visiting the area and those that have nothing will risk your everything and plead blindness thereafter… If you are looking for a safer (not concrete but more reliable) parking spot, use the parking spots located in the Bluewaters Cafe/Barneys parking area or Dolphins leap (parking area between the clearly visible Gondwana’s cafe and Mc Donalds). No place anywhere is 100% safe but you’re a-lot less likely to be robbed at those spots as those car guards (for the most part) earn their part and more eager to show their presence and reliability (if any)

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  • March 13, 2017 at 10:54 am
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    I am sorry but this could and would happen anywhere in the world, you DO NOT leave your bags visible in a parked car unless you want to have them stolen! I don’t understand why it has even made the news.

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  • March 10, 2017 at 4:45 am
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    Typical South Africa. Go anywhere else rather.

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  • March 9, 2017 at 6:01 am
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    The PE waterfront area is a real crime black spo, particularly for visiting tourists. I had my credit card stolen from the Caltex petrol station in Hobie Bay two years ago. The responding police officers informed me that a gang of credit card thieves were operating all along the beach front area targeting tourists in rental cars. Prior to stealing my card, they had just stolen the card of two Swedish tourists a couple of hours beforehand. Just like the ladies in the incident above, the security guard supposed to monitor the area was mysteriously absent during the theft and worse of all, Caltex were unable to provide CCTV footage, which captured the whole incident, despite repeated requests from both myself and the police to retain the footage for investigative purposes. The area is dangerous for tourists and I won’t visit the area again. I also have a lasting distaste of using Caltex petrol stations as a result. Their flagrant refusal to assist in the investigation into this case was nothing short of scandalous.

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  • March 8, 2017 at 7:35 pm
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    Really? So, the crime rate is high in PE .

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  • March 8, 2017 at 9:37 am
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    Car guards??? They do nothing!!! Just wait for hand-outs! Sorry this had to happen to tourists!

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  • March 8, 2017 at 8:43 am
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    Welcome to South Africa. Please tell your friends how great it is here when you go home

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    • March 12, 2017 at 4:35 pm
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      Same same in other countries… Germany, UK, Italia, Spain, USA… more tourists more thiefs… but anyway nice countries.

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