Durban - A Durban couple’s persistence and determination to recover their stolen car paid off when the Greenwood Park police, with the help of a security company, arrested two men and impounded the stolen car in a privately arranged sting operation.
The two men, aged 28 and 31, were arrested at the Nandi Drive Petroport where a meeting was set up by the couple’s relative, who posed as a potential buyer of their limited edition Golf II GTS.
Nivendran Pather and his wife, Michelle Padavattan, had initially asked police to help recover the car, but said they were told to arrange the meeting on their own and only contact them when they were going to hand over the money for the “sale”.
Worried about the potential danger, they contacted a private security company which agreed to be on hand during Thursday’s showdown. The security company sent out an alert to police that a suspicious vehicle was being monitored.
Pather’s Golf was stolen on August 21 in uMhlanga Rocks during a morning fishing trip. A case was opened at the Durban North police station and his wife also forwarded an alert on Blackberry Messenger for friends and family to be on the lookout for the car.
A week later, Pather’s brother-in-law, Danny Govender, spotted the car in Quarry Road near Makro and gave chase. Govender could not catch up after the driver went through a red traffic light.
“He told us that the car already had new number plates. I reported this to the investigating officer who said he would follow up,” Padavattan said.
“A friend then tried to help trace the number plate and learnt that the car had passed a roadworthiness test and was re-registered despite being reported stolen.”
It had the new “owner’s” name, but only a postal address was listed.
On Wednesday, Govender spotted the car again in Warwick Avenue. “Danny followed the car and drove up alongside it at the robots. Two men were inside and he asked the driver if the car was for sale.
“He (the driver) said he wanted R20 000 and gave Danny his cell number,” Pather said.
Padavattan contacted her brother, Gregory, and asked him to pretend to be an interested buyer and arrange a place to view the car.
The seller agreed to meet him yesterday at the Petroport in Nandi Drive.
The couple contacted the investigating officer who advised them to set up the meeting and only call police when payment was made for the car, said Pather.
Feeling uneasy about the danger, the couple contacted Reaction Unit South Africa which briefed the three of them before the meeting on what to do, and agreed to follow them to Nandi Drive and watch from a safe distance.
“They told me to examine the car and to signal them as soon as I could tell this was in fact Niven’s car and they would take over. I was extremely nervous,” Gregory Padavattan said.
His sister and brother-in-law were sitting inside a coffee shop nearby and the security company had a team of five men close by.
“The seller was late and when he eventually arrived, I walked up to the car. Two men were inside and the driver was on his cellphone. He got out and shook my hand and I started looking for the tell-tale dent on the front fender,” he said.
“No sooner had I found it, an SAPS van drove up and stopped behind the car. I was confused because the police said they were not going to be there. When the police officer cocked his gun, I started walking away and signalled to the reaction unit.”
In the coffee shop the couple battled to stay calm as they watched everything unfold.
“When the police and reaction unit pounced, Gregory ran towards us and screamed at Niven to stay put. The suspects were stunned and at no point suspected this was a set-up. One of the guys attempted to run off, but the security guys had the car surrounded,” said family friend Jason Kistiah, who also watched from the coffee shop.
“My five-year-old son, Karlin, loved the Golf and nothing could beat seeing the look on his face when we told him we had found the car. Niven always said we would get our car back and we did. We are glad no one was injured and grateful to everyone for their help,” said Michelle Padavattan.
Provincial police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, said the Greenwood Park police received information that a suspicious vehicle with two male occupants was being monitored at the Petroport and responded.
Two men from KwaMashu were arrested and were taken to the Durban North police station and charged with being in possession of a stolen vehicle. They are expected to appear in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court soon.
The car is at the SAPS pound in Isipingo where the engine number will be re-stamped before it can be released.
Zwane said police could ask complainants to help with information to arrest suspects, but not to follow the suspects. He said the comments allegedly made by the officer would be investigated. - Daily News