Extreme swimmer Ryan Stramrood was held at knife and gunpoint, gagged, blindfolded and tied up during a robbery at his Constantia home on Saturday June 25 – yet he remains positive and posted on Facebook that he was looking for lessons from his ordeal.
He is the latest victim in a series of robberies at Constantia security complexes, according to the police. The robbers have used a similar modus operandi and have managed to sidestep electric fencing and dodge security cameras.
“Police say it’s amazing that I am unhurt and (I’m) very, very lucky. And I agree. Really thought it was goodbye for a while,” Mr Stramrood said on Facebook.
“I’m not going to be doom and gloomy. I love this country,” he told the Bulletin.
On the day of the robbery, Mr Stramrood, who is the co-founder of the International Ice Swimming Association, said he was up just before 6am at the security complex in Constantia where he lives. He was “heading for a big swim session” when he was attacked.
“I walked to my car in the dark and was attacked by three men. One put a gun to my head the other a knife to my side. The third took my wallet, phone and watch, then ransacked the car,” Mr Stramrood said.
Warrant Officer Keith Chandler of Diep River police said the men cut a hole in the fence to get into the property from the green belt.
“They then asked who I lived with, and I told them ‘alone’,” said Mr Stramrood.
His four-year-old son, Jesse, was not home at the time.
The men walked him through every room before making him kneel on the bedroom floor. One man stayed with him in the room and held the gun to his head, while the others grabbed whatever they could carry.
“I watched them pack all my stuff into bags.”
Tragically, the men found Mr Stramrood’s laptop and his external back-up drives holding an irreplaceable 20 year’s worth of work, including videos and photographs of his most notable swimming achievements, such as completing the world’s first Ice Mile in Antarctica and his 59 Robben Island crossings.
“There was lots of footage from around the world and that’s all gone,” Mr Stramrood said.
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To keep calm during the ordeal, Mr Stramrood “negotiated” with the men.
“When they took my laptop bag, I said, ‘There’s nothing of worth in there,’ and so they threw out my ID book and the computer connections,” Mr Stramrood said. “I asked for my credit cards and some of the damn expensive Apple connections in my bag, which they agreed to after a small whack to the head with the gun telling me to stop telling them what to do.”
As the men prepared to make their getaway, they tied Mr Stramrood’s hands and feet with shoelaces, gagged and blindfolded him by tying a shirt tightly over his whole head making it difficult for him to breathe.
“Just before the gag, I asked for my phone and told them it can be tracked. Then the gag was on. They locked the bedroom door and left me lying on the floor, took the key with them,” Mr Stramrood said on Facebook.
He said this had been the most terrifying part of the whole ordeal.
“They had tied my hands so tightly that it cut the blood supply off and I was afraid that nobody would have found me for many hours.”
With his hands tied painfully in front of him, Mr Stramrood was able to pull the shirt off his face and take out the gag.
“Once I got the blindfold off, I saw they had tossed the phone on the bed, and I was able to call the police and Kieron Palframan (a friend) who came as quickly as they could,” Mr Stramrood said. “Stuck in my room, Kieron got scissors and I put my hands through an external window and he freed me from the binds. Then (we) had to get the door off the hinges to get me out room.”
According to police, there have been a few other house robberies in the Constanita area following the same modus operandi.
“They use knives and guns. In one case, they used a gun and a file. Sometimes it’s three guys, sometimes it’s two,” Warrant Officer Chandler said.
Although the complex where Mr Stramrood lives has electric fencing, the section facing the green belt does not. According to Warrant Officer Chandler some of the other complexes that have been robbed have electric fencing, but the robbers have been successful in breaching it.
“They are quite agile,” he said.
The complex only had cameras at the gate, he said.
No one has been arrested yet.
“I must compliment the police,” Mr Stramrood said. “They were wonderful.”
Mr Stramrood believes his extreme swimming helped him survive the ordeal.
“I’ve put myself in some really dangerous situations through my swimming and that helped me to stay cool and rationalise through the situation,” he said. “I’m determined to find the good lessons in this and use it to help myself and others.”
And he hopes it will help him to recover from it too.
“I swam from Robben Island to help me work through the anger and frustration, and I did it in my best time yet.”
Anyone with information about the robbery can contact Detective Warrant Officer Steven Young at 021 710 7342.