’Stick burglar’ on the prowl in Brooklyn, say residents

A camera at Abigail Schouw’s Tulbagh Street home captured this image, on Friday January 7, of a man believed to be the “stick burglar”, following an attempted theft at a neighbour’s house.

A string of burglaries – in which a prowler uses a stick to get at valuables through an open window – is giving Brooklyn residents sleepless nights.

But police say no one has reported the burglaries to them.

Priscilla Patrick, of Mill Street, says she was “traumatised” when a man tried to stick his hand through her window as she lay topless on her bed on a hot, humid morning three weeks ago.

“He ripped the curtain open and stared me straight in the eye. I cannot get that picture out of my head.”

She moved her valuables away from the window, but the man returned just before 2am, on Monday January 17, and used a stick to try to move them within his reach, she says.

“He had on light blue jeans with a red check shirt. I just got a side profile of his looks.”

She pressed her panic button to alert her security company, Fidelity ADT, but they did not come, she says.

However, Fidelity ADT’s Martin Slabbert says their staff got the call and responded within minutes. “Our records show a number of alarm activations from the property, to which we have all responded.”

Ms Patrick says she didn’t report the incidents to the police because she “had a lot on her plate” after heading back to work for the year.

Byron Chaszczewski, of Kings Road, says someone stole his phone through his bedroom window last year while it was charging.

Camera footage showed the burglar using a stick from a palm tree to get the phone.

Mr Chaszczewski says he reported the theft at Maitland police station, but the phone wasn’t recovered and no arrests were made.

Someone returned to his window on Thursday January 20 but ran off when he woke up, he says.

Abigail Schouw, of Tulbagh Street, says something similar happened to her four years ago when a burglar used a stick from a tree to drag her laptop from a table in her bedroom.

She no longer leaves her valuables close to windows and doors despite her home being secured by high walls, electric fencing and cameras.

More than 10 other residents spoke on the Brooklyn Streets Facebook page about encounters with the “stick burglar”, but they declined to speak with Tabletalk.

Residents from Tulbagh, Steenbras, Diep and Elizabeth Roos streets and Lady Anne Walk all claimed to have been targeted by the “stick burglar”.

Maitland police spokeswoman Constable Sandiswa Saula says there are no records of burglaries or any cases relating to a burglar using a stick.

Milnerton police spokesperson Captain Nopaya Madyibi adds: “We are not aware of this modus operandi, and we will appreciate it if people can come forward with this valuable information.”

Maitland Community Police Forum chairman Justin Kumlehn says they only learnt about the “stick burglar” on social media, and there have been no official complaints to the CPF. Residents should report such crimes to the police so they can do more patrols in the area, he says.

Milnerton CPF chairwoman Jacqui Pember has also not heard about the “stick burglar”. She encouraged residents to get involved with their local neighbourhood watches.

Cheryl Castle, chairwoman of Brooklyn Ysterplaat Neighbourhood Watch, says she too has only heard about the incidents on Facebook.