Despite having two-metre spiked walls with electric fences and advanced alarm systems, leading guesthouses in King William’s Town are under siege with a spate of break-ins into the rooms of sleeping guests.
Security camera footage shows cat burglars raiding five upmarket bed and breakfasts in Dale View, Kaffrarian Heights and Fort Hill.
One scales a wall and security gate with a large plasma TV underarm, another is seen inside the property making an elaborate performance of removing his white takkies and stashing them in garden plants, while a third pads quietly through a corridor, arms outstretched for balance, so as not to wake sleeping guests.
King William’s Town police spokesman Captain Siphokazi Mawisa said a 25-year-old suspect was arrested by police in the early hours of yesterday in Ginsberg in connection with a string of housebreakings, thefts and counts of malicious damage to property.
He will appear in the King William’s Town Magistrate’s Court soon.
The spate of burglaries started in November.
Owners declined to give their names or that of their guesthouses for fear of hurting their trade.
One said her establishment had been broken into nine times between November and this week.
She claimed her five guests – who were all robbed in their rooms by one burglar – said they had “slept like babies”.
She believes they were drugged.
One burglar is said to have left a TV on and a dirty coffee cup behind him.
She said one burglar looked at the CCTV cameras and smiled.
Four guesthouse owners, all women, feared the gang was organised and relentless.
Three guesthouses were broken into on Monday and Tuesday and the personal belongings of guests including laptops, cellphones and cash were taken.
The manager of a Beaumont Street guesthouse said: “On Monday they took a car key from one of our guest rooms while the guest was sleeping. The suspect actually went to the parking lot and tried all the cars until one of them opened.”
The car was burgled of R2000, a laptop, a 3G card and a phone.
Two guesthouse owners said two of their guests who were robbed were national police officers in town to run police operations at the ANC’s January birthday celebrations in East London.
The owner of a Beaumont Street guesthouse said yesterday the thieves had robbed a sleeping high-ranking policeman of his two cellphones.
A bed and breakfast in Albert Road had hosted six policemen, two of whom returned from work to find their televisions missing. The guesthouse was burgled in the morning.
One guesthouse owner in Nico Malan Drive said she was mystified how the burglars evaded their modern alarm system. “I even consulted a sangoma about this,” she said.
Mawisa said police were appealing to the guesthouses to improve their security systems. —