Bizzare break-in at Eden on the Bay

The alarm wires were cut and the computer box and airbag control unit stolen from this Toyota Fortuner parked in the underground parking lot at Eden on the Bay.

What was supposed to be a quick dinner at Eden on the Bay turned into a horrific experience a Blaauwberg couple won’t soon forget.

When Albena Willuweit and her husband, Joerg, returned to their Toyota Fortuner in the underground parking lot on the evening of Friday January 20, they were shocked by what they found.

“We opened the doors and got a terrible shock. At first, we thought that there had been an explosion inside the car, but then we realised that this was a break-in. The criminals cut the alarm wires, broke the door-lock and very neatly unscrewed the entire dashboard. Every single bolt, bit and part was carefully placed either on the floor or at the back seat,” said Ms Willuweit.

They managed to escape with the airbag control unit and the car’s computer box.Ms Willuweit suspects more than one person helped to gut their car and that someone had been watching her and her husband throughout, reporting back to whomever was busy with the car.

“Unfortunately for them, my husband and I were done with our dinner very quickly, in approximately 35 minutes, before heading back to the car”.

She believes their quick return spoilt the criminals’ plan to steal their car.

“When we returned to our Fortuner, the security guards were nowhere to be seen. Four of them arrived only after I asked the cleaning personnel for help. There are CCTV cameras throughout the entire underground parking area, but we were told that some of them are not working. The person in the CCTV control room acted very nervous and did not allow us to see the footage of the working cameras”.

The security guards told her the security manager had promised to come to the crime scene. But that, she said, didn’t happen.

“The security guards themselves refused to state their names and explain how something like this could happen while they were on duty. Fortunately, the police responded quickly and have already started their investigation. I hope that our experience will serve as a warning to everyone, to be extra vigilant when parking at Eden on the Bay.”

Table View police spokeswoman Captain Adriana Chandler said it was the first case of its kind reported to them.

“There is no market for airbag units and car computers in Table View,” she said.

Late last year, the Big Bay Master’s Property Owners Association (BBMPOA) discussed a clampdown on car guards and hawkers, whom it claimed were behind some of the crime plaguing the area (“Security plan for Big Bay,” Tabletalk, November 2, 2016). At the meeting the BBMPOA said that most of the criminal activity at Eden on the Bay stemmed from the car guards and hawkers and they also spoke about CCTV footage showing a car guard helping someone to break into a car in the parking lot.

When Tabletalk asked the (BBMPOA) for comment about the Willuweits’ car, we were referred to Rennie Properties, the managing agents of the body corporate at Eden on the Bay.

Henry Truter, property manager at Rennie Properties, said he sympathised with the couple.

“Unfortunately in South Africa, we have a major crime problem, and we all live with it,” said Mr Truter.

He said there had been almost 800 car break-ins in the Blaauwberg area last year and that only six of them had happened at Eden on the Bay, so they were “not exceptionally targeted”.

“We have approximately 90-odd cameras which are mostly functional. But we do have the odd camera failing or which needs to be repaired. It’s impossible to have a camera on every car in the parking lot. So we try to monitor the main ways in and out. We checked the footage and found no suspicious vehicle coming in or out.”

He said no one was allowed to go into the control rooms to view footage as it was a breach of security. Copies of footage were handed to the police only.

“We cannot speculate on anything,” he said.

He said four security guards patrolled Eden on the Bay, on foot, round the clock and the managing agents planned to hire an extra guard to patrol the area on a bicycle.

“The cleaners at Eden on the Bay also act as our eyes and ears. They can also be approached for help if anything happens,” he said.