R1m jewellery heist

Armed robbers broke the glass door at Winhall & de Stadler Jewellers last week.

Police are hunting the three masked men, armed with guns and a sledgehammer, who smashed their way into a Constantia Emporium jewellery store last week and grabbed about R1 million in jewellery.

According to Diep River Police station commander Lieutenant Colonel Ansley Jacobs, the robbers struck just after 7pm on Thursday June 25 as mall security guards were closing up.

The robbers wore balaclavas and gloves. Two had guns; the third carried a sledgehammer. They smashed the glass door of the Gary Hom Hairdressing Salon but did not go in.

Then, after ordering two security guards to lie on the floor, they smashed their way into Winhall & de Stadler Jewellers, and emerged a few minutes later with bags of loot. Without firing a shot, they climbed into the blue Volkswagen Golf with cloned plates they had come in, but when it wouldn’t start they hijacked a Fiat, which was later found abandoned in Klipfontein Road, Mowbray.

Sean de Stadler, the store’s co-owner, said the robbers had taken the “less expensive jewellery” and no cash or customers’ goods.

“They are locked in a safe. We understand how sentimental those can be to our customers,” he said.

One of the security guards had suffered a minor cut on his hand from the store’s broken glass door, he said.

Mr De Stadler said the store was doing surprisingly well this month despite the robbery and being closed for two months during lockdown.

“I had made a low estimate and a high estimate of how we would do in June, and we’ve actually beaten the high estimate.” he said.

Idris Khayende, a Constantia Emporium trolley attendant who witnessed robbery, said he suspected the robbers had visited the centre the day before to scout it out.

“I suspect that these guys came on Wednesday. There was a black Audi that parked here, and it looked very shady. One of the guys sat on the bench outside the shop, and the two went inside and looked
around. They looked for a while, but they didn’t buy anything. They looked very suspicious… something tells me it was
them.”

A shopper, who was present during the robbery but didn’t want her name published, said everyone had started running as soon they had heard the sound of smashing glass.

“The mall wasn’t full, it was late, already dark outside, but all of that social distancing stuff went out the window and everyone started running and screaming, yoh! There was chaos.

“I was so worried that I’m going to get Covid like this. Why now Lord?” she
said.

A spokesperson for the Shoprite Group, which manages the centre where it is also the anchor tenant, said they were continually trying to make the mall safer, but could not give details on these measures for security reasons.