Four robbery suspects “messed with the wrong neighbourhood” when they drove into Clovelly, where residents sprang a trap that led to their arrest.
The suspects, three men and a woman, allegedly stole a car in Diep River, and the number plates were flagged with police.
On Tuesday July 2, the car was spotted in Clovelly and police were alerted.
Police spokesman, Warrant Officer Peter Middelton, said the suspects stopped to pick up a woman on Fish Hoek Main Road who requested a lift to Kalk Bay.
However, instead of taking her to Kalk Bay, the driver of the car turned into Clovelly Road where the woman was robbed of her handbag and personal belongings.
But with this “wrong turn”, the suspects got more than they bargained for when police called on members of the neighbourhood watch for help and instructed them to block the road.
There is only one way in and out of Clovelly.
Neighbourhood watch coordinator, Mark Prowse, said that while watch members don’t have powers of arrest they are subject to instructions from a law officer.
“If we receive an instruction from SAPS, we do our best to assist, and that’s exactly what the Clovelly residents did,” he said.
Police, private security officers and members of the watch swarmed Clovelly Road. Feeling the heat, the driver of the car tried to escape but crashed into a parked car on the side of the road and then into a boulder as he cut a sharp corner at high speed.
In the meantime, the woman they had picked up escaped from the car and was running down the road.
Warrant Officer Middelton said that after the car crashed for a second time, two suspects fled on foot and the woman’s handbag was tossed into nearby bushes while the other two fled up the mountain.
Clovelly resident and neighbourhood watch member, Tracy Sassen, said she had been in a meeting when members of the watch tried to call her.
“After the meeting wrapped up about ten minutes later, I had 11 missed calls on my phone and knew something was wrong,” she said.
She rushed home, and when she arrived, two of the suspects had been arrested and police and private security officers were looking for the other two.
“Clovelly residents came out in droves. That’s what neighbourhood watch is all about. They messed with the wrong neighbourhood,” she said.
Another Clovelly resident, Kyoko Morgan, was at a pottery class when she heard a woman scream.
“At first I thought it was a seagull or a child playing, but when she screamed again I could hear it was a woman,” she said.
Ms Morgan ran outside and saw a woman coming down the road screaming “my bag, my bag”, while pointing in the opposite direction.
The car from which she had escaped was heading in the direction of the golf course and she knew there was only one way back.
“There were residents everywhere attempting to block the road, and I wanted to help,” she said.
She jumped in her car, which was parked in the driveway of the pottery studio, and slowly made her way to the golf course.
“I didn’t know how to stop them, so I just parked across the road,” she said.
A few minutes later, the maroon BMW appeared and slowed down.
“The driver threw his hands up in the air and then slowly moved forward manoeuvring the car around mine,” she said.
Mr Prowse said he was proud of team Clovelly.
“This is an example of what neighbourhood watch is all about. I am very grateful to our active members who did what they had to do,” he said.
Police caught all four suspects as they ran from the area. They were charged with robbery and possession of a stolen vehicle and appeared in the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court on Thursday July 4.
Warrant Officer Middelton said it was the second time in two weeks that a stolen vehicle from outside Fish Hoek had been linked to a crime in Fish Hoek.
Two weeks ago, he said, three suspects, in a stolen vehicle from Cloetesville, were arrested in front of the Victorian Times after a fourth suspect who was also in the car, stole a vehicle parked in front of the Victorian Times.
The stolen car was later found burnt out in Mitchell’s Plain.