Tunnel thieves return again and again to steal booze worth R300,000
Solid concrete was no deterrent for thieves who tunnelled into a Johannesburg liquor store during lockdown, stealing R300,000 in whisky, brandy, gin, ciders, vodka and beer.
Shoprite said the theft from the Shoprite LiquorShop in Newtown Junction took place during lockdown levels 4 and 5 , when the sale of alcohol was prohibited.
The manager of the store discovered the theft, and a large hole in the floor, when she entered the store on Friday. She was returning to prepare for the store’s reopening under level 3 on Monday.
"With alcohol in high demand during the lockdown, the store was secured from the outside throughout. The suspects avoided the mall’s main entrance and instead used electrical and storm water tunnels beneath the shopping centre to gain access to an area beneath the store," said Shoprite. "They then tunnelled through the solid concrete floor directly into the shop."
It is unclear how the thieves knew where to tunnel, nor how long it took them to get through the thick concrete floor, but they returned a few times to steal a large amount of stock.
Oswald Meiring, the Shoprite Group's loss control manager, said the suspects were first recorded on CCTV cameras on May 21, just 10 days before liquor sales were allowed.
Footage from inside the store shows three suspects, although more may have remained in the tunnel to help move the liquor.
Meiring said the thieves made off with whisky, brandy, gin, cider, vodka and beer to an estimated value of R300,000.
A R50,000 reward, subject to terms and conditions, has been made available for information which leads to a successful arrest. People with information can call 0800 118 879 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.