Sunday, 28 January 2007

Victim watches in horror as robbers close in

Gill Gifford

January 27 2007 at 12:16PM

A woman was forced to watch her CCTV helplessly as four robbers mounted an attack on her home that ended in gunfire between them and her neighbours.

The drama took just 101 seconds - from the time her brother-in-law drove into her home's garage, the robbers dislodged the gate, sneaked in, held him up at gunpoint to when they fled after the shootout.

The first picture was taken at 21.51:47 on Wednesday night.

It shows her brother-in-law's car entering the yard after he had visited his girlfriend. Behind him is the robbers' car in the street.

'It was just a typical armed robbery scenario, according to Brooklyn police officers'

Sandy Stoltz was working on her computer in her Newlands, Pretoria east house when she saw this scene on the CCTV monitor next to her.

Next she saw two masked intruders dashing on to her property just before the electric gate closed.

She activated a panic button linked to the house alarm, triggering the sirens.

"Not too bothered by the sirens, the criminals still struggle away with the gate and basically rip the entire gate off its rail," Stoltz said in an email she sent along with the photographs she had downloaded from the footage.

Once all four men were inside, the first two ambushed her brother-in-law, holding him at gunpoint. They demanded his keys, cellphone and wallet, and questioned him about who else was in the house.

"It was just a typical armed robbery scenario, according to Brooklyn police officers. Luckily my brother-in-law's response was 'no'. At the time, my three kids were sleeping, unaware of the danger lurking just outside their bedroom windows," Stoltz said.

She called the police as her brother-in-law started yelling in panic. At that moment, the men decided to leave.

Her neighbour, alerted by the wailing sirens, spotted the robbers and shouted at them. They fired two shots at him as they made their break for freedom. One of the bullets ripped through the neighbour's second-storey window, where his son was standing, watching the escape.

"My neighbour across the road fired a warning shot, which probably helped convince the criminals they were not welcome. The criminals got into the car, seen in the very first picture behind my brother-in-law's car, and drove off," Stoltz said.

The thing that horrified her most was the manner in which the robbers continued their actions despite wailing alarms, seemingly unbothered by the possible consequences, she said. "I thank God that he directed my eyes towards the CCTV screen at that very moment so I could see the incident happen.

"Things could have gone very far south for me and my whole family. I salute the Brooklyn police and ADT who arrived on the scene within five minutes," Stoltz said.

"And I am thankful for following a premonition I'd had a few weeks earlier to invest in a CCTV system. I had fixed my electric fence and alarm system, which had been out of action for a few weeks." Stoltz empathised with the many families who had been violated and harmed, and called her situation "fortunate".

This article was originally published on page 2 of Pretoria News on January 27, 2007


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