Robbery suspect found hiding in relative’s ceiling

A robbery suspect who has been on the run for three years was nabbed in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday morning while hiding in the ceiling of a relative’s house.

Nataniel “Boertjie” Stokes, 25, was caught at a house in Chatty, Bethelsdorp following an anonymous tip-off.

Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the Mount Road cluster Operational Command Centre (OCC) tracing team specialising in tracking down wanted suspects raided the house at 4am.

“About five detectives went to the house at around 3:30am. On arrival they surrounded the premises in case he tried to escape through the back door or a window,” she said.

“The lights inside the house were on at that time and one of the detectives managed to peeked through the window where the curtain was slightly drawn back. He saw him [Stokes] climbing into the ceiling area obviously after realising that the house had been surrounded.

“Detectives knocked on the door and the relative he was living with eventually answered the door. Police went inside and called for him [Stokes] to come down however he remained still and quiet, pretending not be in the roof.”

Naidu said that after about 20 minutes of calling for him to come down, a police officer climbed into the ceiling.

“He was eventually brought down from the ceiling and arrested,” she said.

Stokes had allegedly been linked through fingerprint evidence to 13 burglaries committed in the Bethelsdorp area between 2015 and October last year.

In addition, he was also wanted for an attempted robbery in 2015 – where he was arrested.

“It is alleged that on January 1 2015, the suspect and a friend attempted to rob a man in Govan Mbeki Avenue.

“They asked a man for a cigarette and when he replied he did not have one, the suspects drew a firearm and a knife.

“Luckily, the man managed to escape and a nearby patrolling police vehicle was waved down for assistance.”

Stokes was arrested at a nearby shopping mall, with a toy gun and a knife.

“He was released on bail but failed to appear again on March 3 2015 and a warrant for his arrest was issued,” she said.

Naidu said more cases could follow.

“Now that he is in custody, detectives are going to see if he is linked to any other crimes via an identify parade.”

Stokes is due to appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

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