caught with loot

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Six gang members believed to be the kingpins behind break-ins at shops in Newcastle in northern KwaZulu-Natal have been caught.

They were arrested after the the latest robbery at a local clothing chainstore in the town.

The suspects were wanted for allegedly breaking into the storeroom at Jet Stores and stealing clothing worth over R10000.

The men are also linked to other robberies at stores in the town.

Police spokesman Shooz Magudulela said the suspects had broken into the shop's storeroom at night.

He said police had responded after the alarm was activated but when they arrived there was no one in the shop.

"We saw that there had definitely been a break-in and opened a case. While checking the store police officers noticed that there were clothes stuffed into a dustbin nearby," he said.

In the morning members of the public contacted the police and informed them that there were suspicious-looking men carrying clothes in a taxi.

"The police set a trap and waited for the taxi. They stopped it and arrested six men carrying the stolen items.

"The shop's manager estimated the goods were valued at over R10000," said Magudulela.

He said the arrest was a dent in a criminal network.

Graham Altenkirk, president of the local chamber of commerce, said criminals often came into town to "try their luck".

He said because the town had a fast growing economy, criminals from big towns in Gauteng were attracted to the area.

"Our town is within driving distance of Gauteng and we know that criminals from there come here. Our businesses here work closely with police and police always do a good job to make certain the criminals are arrested."