Scottburgh police on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast have made a breakthrough and arrested a 23-year-old man, Mzwandile Petros Ngcobo, of Inanda, who has been on the run for nearly a year.
Ngcobo was wanted for 19 cases of burglaries and theft committed in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Western Cape.
Captain Vincent Pandarum said Ngcobo was implicated in a spate of burglaries and vehicle theft .
"Residents of Scottburgh had experienced a spate of burglaries and theft out of motor vehicles since the beginning of January.
"Investigations by members of the Scottburgh detective services revealed that Ngcobo was implicated in these crimes," said Pandarum.
He said police had received a tip-off that criminals from Durban travelled by train in the evenings to the South Coast towns where they broke into houses and vehicles and returned to Durban with the stolen goods early the following morning on the first available train.
"It is alleged that there was a market in the Durban area for stolen goods. Investigations are under way to identify and arrest the people who allegedly buy these stolen goods.
"We believe that if the demand is curtailed then the thefts would also decline as it would no longer be profitable to steal," he said.
He said special operations were carried out on trains and members patrolled the CBD, residential areas and stations.
"On March 5, constables Patrick Cele and Felix Molefe boarded a train at the Kelso Railway Station, south of Scottburgh, and monitored passengers at the stations en route to Durban.
"They noticed two men carrying large black bags boarding the train at the Scottburgh station.
"As the train left the station, the policemen approached the two men and found that the bags they were carrying contained an assortment of items including clothing, a camera, musical equipment, car radios and cosmetics. The two men were unable to provide any reasonable account for possessing the items," he said.
Pandarum said the suspects were arrested for being in possession of suspected stolen property and detained at the Scottburgh police station.
He said Inspector Yugen Moodley recognised Ngcobo, one of the arrested men, as the suspect he had been looking for in connection with some cases he was investigating.
"Subsequent investigations linked Ngcobo to 19 cases of burglaries and theft out of motor vehicles in the Scottburgh area.
"Investigations are still under way to determine if the second suspect, Musa Ntuli, 20, also of Inanda, was linked to any other cases," he said.
Pandarum said both suspects are expected to appear in court next week Wednesday for bail applications.
They will remain in police custody until then.
Ngcobo will also be transferred to Gauteng and one other province to face further charges.
He said a large quantity of the recovered property had been returned to its lawful owners.
"This was the fourth instance in recent months where suspects from the Durban area were arrested with suspected stolen property," Pandarum added.