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Thieves tunnel into Shoprite, steal drinks worth R300,000




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A Shoprite LiquorShop at the Newtown Junction shopping centre in Johannesburg has been robbed in bizarre fashion by thieves who tunnelled through a solid concrete floor to gain access, News24 reports.

The robbery took place while the shop was closed due to the COVID-19 lockdown while the sale of alcohol was prohibited.

The manager of the store discovered the theft – and a large hole in the ground – when she entered the store on Friday. She was returning to prepare for the store’s reopening on Monday under the easing of lockdown regulations to Level 3.

With alcohol in high demand during the lockdown, the store was secured throughout from the outside. But the thieves avoided the mall’s main entrance and instead used electrical and stormwater tunnels beneath the shopping centre to gain access to the area beneath the store. They then tunnelled through the solid concrete floor directly into the liquor shop to gain access undetected, Shoprite said.

It was unclear how the thieves knew where to tunnel and 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

According to Oswald Meiring, the Shoprite Group’s loss control manager, the thieves were first recorded on CCTV cameras on 21 May, just 10 days before liquor sales were allowed on Monday.

Footage from inside the store shows three suspects, although more may have remained in the tunnel to help move the large quantity of stolen liquor.

Meiring said the thieves made off with whiskey, brandy, gin, cider, vodka and beer with 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.

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