Theft of over 100 guns sparks fears
Police are concerned that the theft of more than 100 firearms from a gun shop in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni, may lead to an increase in the so-called "trio crimes" of house and business robberies and hijacking.
"We are concerned that our trio crimes will escalate because of this robbery," police spokesperson Pearl van Staad said yesterday.
The Limpopo Arms and Ammunition shop came under attack from robbers on Wednesday morning. Five armed suspects fled in a Silver Mitsubishi Triton, which was recovered nearby.
Van Staad said an unknown man first entered the shop and asked a manager to be shown some firearms.
The manager said the man was looking at the stock on the counter when he pulled out a Glock pistol and held him up and two staff members.
He instructed the employees to open the door for two other men, one armed with a pistol. Van Staad said the staff members were ordered into a strong room.
The robbers then loaded weapons into the business' bakkie, a grey Mitsubishi Triton. "About 100 firearms have been taken, of [unverified] types or values at this stage," Van Staad said.
The bakkie was recovered at the corner of Pretoria Road and Tait Street in Witfield. Van Staad said a witness saw the men load weapons into a green Mazda. No shots were fired and no one was injured.
Van Staad said no arrests had been made and no firearms had been recovered. "We are still waiting for the list of [items] stolen from the owner. We should have it by the end of the day."
Adèle Kirsten of Gun Free Association said it was "terrible" that the stolen firearms were now in the hands of criminals. She said it should be a priority for the police to recover the firearms.
"This incident is an illustration of where the guns to commit crimes come from. The legal trade feeds the illegal trade, the fact that there are guns in circulation means that criminals are able to get hold of them," Kirsten said.
She said those who owned firearms were now at risk. "This notion that a gun can bring you safety and can protect you is a myth. A gun actually increases your risk of being targeted."
Gun Owners SA (Gosa) said victims should not be blamed for what criminals do. "While the anti-gun lobby, and others, might be quick to blame the dealership for the loss of firearms, we as law-abiding citizens of SA, must blame the criminals for this crime. Just like we would blame the rapist, instead of the rape victim," Gosa chairperson Paul Oxley said.
"Lives are lost and it doesn't seem to be a priority of the police to deal with it. When armed gun shop personnel are robbed, it is a sad indication of just how the police have allowed the crime situation in SA to deteriorate. crime intelligence has become an oxymoron."
Meanwhile, the Hawks could not immediately confirm reports that two police officers were robbed of their firearms in Springs, Ekurhuleni, on Wednesday."
- Additional reporting by Nico Gous