R4m jewellery heist at mall
Second armed robbery at the centre within a week
Walking in formation, five robbers – two in front, two at the back and one in the middle with his arms outstretched and a gun in each hand – carried bags of jewellery worth more than R4-million in total out of the Greenacres Shopping Centre yesterday.
The brazen robbery at Creative Jewellers in the Shoprite section of the mall happened at about 10.20am.
It was the second armed robbery at the centre within a week.
Police and security guards cordoned off the area, with forensic experts searching for evidence near the entrance after it emerged that one of the suspects might have cut himself during the heist.
Mount Road Cluster commander Major-General Thembisile Patekile and his management team went to the scene to oversee the investigation.
The stolen jewellery includes chains, watches, necklaces, bracelets and rings.
A badly shaken employee at a nearby store said she had seen the robbers as they made their escape.
The frightened woman did not want to be named or have her store identified.
“I saw them walking out towards the exit,” the woman said tremulously.
“One of the robbers, walking in the middle of the group, had a gun in each hand which he waved around while shouting.
Some of them were dragging big bags, while the others were carrying [tog] bags. We were terrified.”
The woman said she had not been able to hear what the man had been shouting.Employees at Street Fever, next to the jewellery shop, said they had heard glass breaking and people screaming.
“Everyone was running towards the exits and screaming. We locked the doors and stayed inside the shop.
None of us saw much – we only saw [the robbers] running out of the shop,” an employee, who also did not want to be named, said.
Police spokeswoman Priscilla Naidu said the robbers’ getaway car had been parked at the Shoprite entrance to the mall.
“The entire incident was over in minutes and went mostly unnoticed until the men started breaking the glass cabinets,” she said.
“The alarm was raised when the robbers were leaving the centre.”
No shots were fired during the robbery.
Naidu said the staff had been held hostage while the men ransacked the jewellery cabinets.
“The men entered the centre with their firearms concealed. It was a fairly well-orchestrated robbery,” she said.“As they entered the shop, the men ushered the two counter staff at gunpoint into the back office where a third employee was working.
“The three were forced to lie on the ground while the robbers smashed all the glass cabinets [to get to the jewellery].
“They fled in a white Renault Cleo that was parked outside.”
Naidu confirmed that an assortment of jewellery had been stolen.
“At this stage, we know it is bracelets, rings and chains, but we need to wait for a full inventory report,” she said.
“The R4-million is an estimate and it could change once a stock-take has been done.”
Last week, six armed men robbed the Samsung Teletek electronics store in the centre of cellphones, watches and money.
They fired one shot before fleeing in a Toyota Yaris.
The area where the jewellery shop is falls under the Shoprite section of the mall.
Greenacres Shopping Centre manager Brent Starr declined to comment, referring queries to Marinda Herbst, of Shoprite Properties.
Herbst said she was unable to comment on the incident, but the company’s spokesman would be in contact.
However, no one from the company had called back by the time of going to print.