They work in the dark, stripping wheels from parked cars and fleeing into the night.
It’s part of a new wave of crime that is gripping the streets of Table View where owners have woken up to find their car’s axles left bare and balanced on nothing but a set of bricks.
“It’s happening almost every night all around us,” said the area’s Community Policing Forum. “It’s not safe to park on the streets anymore.”
In the past week, there have been at least four reported incidents but forum’s spokeswoman Gemma Gardner, who has labelled the spate of crime as a new trend, said this might be just the tip of the iceberg “as many people tend not to report this type of crime”.
She said while they were not sure how the thieves were able to rapidly strip the vehicles, the assumption was that they worked in teams and used a jack to prop up the car on cinder blocks or bricks.
According to the police’s annual crime statistics, there has been a dramatic increase in these types of crime in the Western Cape over the past five years.
The statistics show that the number of reported incidents of theft out of motor vehicles, which is not just limited to the theft of wheels, has increased from 35 367 in 2009 to 42 638 last year – an 18 percent surge.
Durbanville has seen those thefts rise from 283 reported incidents to 533 in the same period (almost 50 percent).
And Table View has seen a 19 percent spike from 797 incidents to 975.