Shots fired as alleged hijackers of tobacco truck in Newton Park speed off in attempt to evade police
A high-speed chase resulted in three alleged tobacco truck hijackers being arrested after one of their getaway cars crashed into a wall while they were trying to escape from police in Port Elizabeth yesterday.
The police said the suspects – aged between 25 and 42 – were known to be linked to previous serious crimes.
The incident happened at about 8.30am when a British American Tobacco delivery vehicle was hijacked outside Tony’s Mini Hyper in Fifth Avenue, Newton Park, while doing a drop-off.
It followed a similar incident involving three suspects near Humansdorp the previous evening.
Police spokesman Captain Johan Rheeder said that shortly after the hijacking, police had received a tip-off that the delivery truck was in Roos Street near the 10111 call centre in Schauderville.
“Police found the driver locked in the back of the vehicle. By that stage the suspects had fled in three vehicles.
“Both the Flying Squad and K9 unit responded and spotted a VW Polo driving in the Schauderville area,” he said.
“A high-speed car chase ensued when the Polo sped off.
“Backup was called in and the tactical response teams joined in the pursuit.”
During the chase, a passenger in the Polo had waved a firearm out the open window.
“Whether he fired at police is not yet known.
“The police opened fire on the Polo after seeing the gun being pointed at them.”
The Polo’s back window was shot out in the chase.
After crashing into the wall of the Family Store in Highfield Road, Korsten, the three occupants attempted to flee.
“One was arrested while trying to run across Highfield Road when the police dog managed to grab him.
“The passenger who had the gun was also tackled by the police dog while attempting to jump out of the car.
“The third suspect was caught while trying to jump over the boundary wall of a nearby property.”
Rheeder said the other two vehicles used in the heist were still missing.
“We are following up leads at the moment. It remains unknown as to how many people in total were involved with the hijacking,” he said.
About R150 000 worth of cigarettes had been recovered by midday, but the value of the rest of the missing stock remains unknown.
The three men are due to appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court tomorrow.
In a similar incident on Tuesday evening, a delivery van transporting rice, nappies and noodles was hijacked outside Humansdorp by a woman posing as a police official.
Police spokesman Sergeant Majola Nkohli said the truck had been stopped at about 5.40pm by a woman – wearing a police reflective vest – who signalled the driver to pull off on the N2 near Humansdorp.
“The driver also noticed a black VW Polo parked on the roadside,” he said.
“The woman, who claimed to be conducting a vehicle inspection on the truck, distracted the driver while two men approached, and then forced the driver into the Polo.
“One of the men was armed with a firearm. One suspect then drove away with the truck while the VW Polo followed.
“After a short while, the Polo stopped and parked on the roadside, while the truck continued driving. The driver was then allowed to leave the vehicle and walk away.”
The truck was found abandoned by a tracking company near Palmietvlei Bridge about 50km from where the hijacking happened.
“Some of the stock, such as baby diapers, rice and noodles was missing. A case of hijacking was opened and the three suspects are still at large.”
Police are trying to establish if the two incidents are linked.