Gangs now targeting diesel depots

Fuel worth hundreds of thousands of rands stolen in past two months Depots storing diesel are being targeted by armed gangs in Port Elizabeth who arrive with portable pumps and trailers loaded with 1 000 litre containers. Police and security companies revealed that diesel worth hundreds of thousands of rands had been stolen from several businesses in the past two months.

Police have described the spate of attacks as “problematic”, with gangs targeting logistical depots and fuel transporters. The majority of businesses targeted are in Motherwell, Markman Industrial Township and the Wells Estate area. In most of the robberies, the security guards are held at gunpoint while the gang steal the fuel. Due to the incidents being linked to organised crime, the police’s specialist Trio Task Team has taken over the investigation. The latest robbery took place at Milktrans in Markman Industrial Township on Sunday night. This led to a car chase resulting in the bakkie transporting the stolen diesel crashing. Isilo Security owner Ian Rademeyer said security guards and truck drivers were tied up by a gang of five gunmen who then pulled their Hyundai H100 light commercial vehicle into the yard at about 7pm. “The suspects then placed a battery operated pump into the diesel tanks and pumped it into large empty tanks on the back of the vehicle,” he said.

Rademeyer arrived at the scene and gave chase. “As they were driving on the Addo Road towards Motherwell I decided to ram the trailer to make sure they didn’t get away,” he said. “The driver of the bakkie lost control and the trailer flipped [causing] the bakkie to roll into a lamp pole.” The suspects managed to escape. Rademeyer said that in the past two months he was aware of eight similar robberies. “This group is targeting depots who store large quantities of diesel for their truck fleet. In all the robberies this same bakkie was used, which suggests it is the same gang,” he said. “This is a breakthrough as that vehicle has already turned up several leads that I hope will eventually result in arrests.” Police spokesman Captain Andre Beetge said detectives were still unsure how many gangs were operational. “It is possible that there are several smaller splinter gangs targeting these businesses,” he said. Beetge said the getaway vehicle was also fitted with false licence plates. “Our vehicle inspection section has also been called in to assist so that we can ascertain if the vehicle is stolen,” he said. Fingerprint and forensic testing had been done on the vehicle to assist with identifying the suspects.