Jewellery worth millions stolen in two robberies

TWO popular Port Elizabeth shopping centres were hit at the weekend by brazen robbers who escaped with jewellery worth what is believed to be millions of rands – and dummy cellphones.

The robberies – at the Shoprite mall in Greenacres and Walmer Park shopping centre – happened just hours apart.

Police said it was too early to say if the incidents were linked.

The Shoprite mall was hit first – sometime between Saturday night and before the centre opened yesterday morning – with Creative Jewellery, luggage shop The Matador and cellphone giant Vodacom targeted.

The robbers escaped with jewellery worth an undisclosed amount and dummy cellphones from Vodacom’s display window.

At 9.35am yesterday, Ritter’s Jewellers in Walmer Park was hit.

Police spokesman Warrant Officer Alwin Labans said two people had entered the shop, pretending to be customers.

One man then pulled out a gun and ordered the store owner and his two assistants to lie on the ground.

Three other suspects – one of them a woman – then came in and ransacked the shop.

The gang of five walked out unchallenged with jewellery worth a substantial amount, even though there are usually security guards that patrol the section.

While the robbery was happening, the guards were nowhere to be seen, according to a worker from a nearby store.

At the Shoprite mall, the acting manager of The Matador said: “We don’t know exactly what happened, but I suspect one guy tried to put his arm through the display window [which the robbers had shattered] and cut his arm. There was blood on the window. However, we’re not sure yet if they took anything.”

At Vodacom, it was business as usual with the customers oblivious of the earlier drama.

The robbers grabbed only four dummy cellphones from Vodacom’s display window.

“I think it’s stupidity to break the glass window and walk away with only the dummy phones,” an employee, who did not want to be named, said.

- Hendrick Mphande