100 guns stolen in Boksburg robbery 'could feed into other crimes'
Police are concerned that the theft of more than 100 firearms from a gun shop in Boksburg may lead to an increase in so-called "trio crimes" - house and business robberies and hijacking.
"We are concerned that our trio crimes will escalate because of this robbery," police spokesperson Pearl van Staad said on Thursday.
The Limpopo Arms and Ammunition shop on the East Rand came under attack from robbers on Wednesday morning. Five suspects - all armed - fled in a Silver Mitsubishi Triton, which was recovered nearby.
Van Staad said an unknown man first entered the shop and asked a manager about seeing some firearms.
She said the man was looking at the stock on the counter when he pulled out a Glock pistol and held up the manager and two staff members.
He instructed the employees to open the door for two other men, one armed with a pistol.
Van Staad said the staff members were ordered into the strong room.
The robbers then loaded weapons into the business's bakkie, a grey Mitsubishi Triton.
"About 100 firearms have been taken, of unknown types or values at this stage," Van Staad said.
The bakkie was recovered at the corner of Pretoria road and Tait street in Witfield.
Van Staad said a witness saw the men load weapons into a green Mazda.
No shots were fired and no one was injured. Van Staad said no arrests had been made and no firearms had been recovered.
"We are still waiting for the list of properties stolen from the owner. We should have it by the end of the day."
Meanwhile, Hawks spokesperson Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu said that an officer, who was about to knock off from night shift, went to a shopping centre in KwaThema on the East Rand to draw money.
"Two men accosted him at the ATM and threatened him with a firearm. They disarmed him from his state firearm," she said.
Mulamu said the men took the officer to his police car, where they took out the R5 rifle.
The men fled the scene on foot with the rifle and the car keys.
Adèle Kirsten from the Gun Free Association said it was "terrible" that the stolen firearms were now in the hands of criminals.
She said it should be a priority for the police to recover the firearms.
"This incident is an illustration of where the guns to commit crimes come from.
"The legal trade feeds the illegal trade, the fact that there are guns in circulation means that criminals are able to get hold of them," Kirsten said.
She said that those who owned firearms were now at risk.
"This notion that the gun can bring you safety and can protect you is a myth. A gun actually increases your risk of being targeted."
Meanwhile, Gun Owners South Africa (Gosa) said victims should not be blamed for what criminals do.
"While the anti-gun lobby, and others, might be quick to blame the dealership for the loss of firearms, we as law-abiding citizens of SA must blame the criminals for this violent crime.
"Just like we would blame the rapist, instead of the rape victim." Gosa chairperson Paul Oxley said.
"Lives are lost and it doesn’t seem to be a priority of the police to deal with it. When armed gun shop personnel are robbed, it is a sad indication of just how the police have allowed the crime situation in SA to deteriorate … Crime intelligence has become an oxymoron."
- Additional reporting by Nico Gous