Con artists target car theft victims

Engela van der Walt's blue Ford Laser was found stripped in Philippi on Thursday June 21.

Con artists are posing as cops to get car-theft victims to part with thousands of rand in the hope of getting their stolen cars back, warn Milnerton police.

Milnerton police spokeswoman Captain Nopaya Madyibi says they’ve had three such cases in the space of a month.

Steven Beattie’s car was stolen outside the Milnerton traffic department on Wednesday June 20. He said that a week later, someone claiming to be a police officer called him, saying he should pay
R2 000 to get his car back (“Upset over cops’ handling of car theft case,” Tabletalk, Wednesday July 4). Captain Madyibi said the conman’s modus operandi was to ask the victim to send an affidavit claiming ownership of the stolen car and then deposit money into a Money Market account to get the car back.

Captain Madyibi stressed that SAPS did not charge money to return a stolen vehicle.

“Under no circumstances must any money be paid,” she said. Neither should an affidavit or car registration papers be faxed or emailed to anyone asking for money.

“People must be aware that this is a scam,” she said.

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said scammers were becoming increasingly sophisticated and he urged the public to exercise caution.

“Not only is impersonating a police officer a criminal offence, but it tarnishes the good name of the dedicated men and women in blue diligently serving our communities and can lead to a breakdown in the relationship between the police and communities,“ he said.

In March, Engela van der Walt, loaned her blue Ford Laser to her sister, who lives in Milnerton.

According to a statement Ms Van der Walt later made to Groblersdal SAPS in Limpopo, her sister called her on Wednesday June 20 saying the car had been stolen at the Milnerton library and that she had reported the incident to Milnerton SAPS.

A day later, a man identifying himself as a Metro police officer called Ms Van der Walt to report her car had been found “chopped up” in Philippi.

But then, on Monday June 25, she received nine phone calls from a man identifying himself as Captain Riaan Buys from Bellville SAPS.

“He told me that someone had tried to take my vehicle through the Lesotho border and that he himself was at Maseru police station at that stage where my vehicle was impounded.

“He told me that he and his investigation team drove 10 hours from Bellville to follow the lead on my vehicle,” Ms Van der Walt says in her statement.

Tabletalk tried calling the number provided by Mr Beattie and Ms Van der Walt, which was the same 076 number, but it goes straight to voicemail.

Ms Van der Walt said “Captain Buys” had convinced her to send R1 500 by eWallet to a number he gave her so that they could get a “clearance for the car at the court” to drive the car back to Milnerton and deliver it to her sister.