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Undercover operation to combat cigarette truck heists


Limpopo will be one of five provinces where an intelligence-driven undercover operation will function to address national and trans-national organised crime syndicates.
National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega last week approved the establishment of a special national undercover operation to intensify the fight against the hijacking of cigarette trucks.
Solomon Makgale, National Police Spokesperson in a media release informed that of the more than 324 cases of hijacking trucks transporting cigarettes reported since 2013 in the country, 40 were in Limpopo.
“A multi-disciplinary approach was successful in addressing many robberies at depots and vehicles transporting cigarettes, leading to the arrest of many suspects and the recovery of stolen goods. Suspects had cases opened against them including for armed robberies, car-jacking, attempted murder, murder, possession of stolen property and possession of unlicensed firearms,” he said.
A task force, comprising investigators and intelligence operatives, was established first in Gauteng to gather intelligence supplied by Police officials, sources, British American Tobacco and security companies and was utilised to provide early warning in support of pro-active intervention and to provide tactical and operational assistance.
Makgale said a medium-term strategy of the operation will be to identify and arrest high flyers, repeat offenders, cluster level criminal networks and organized criminal groups. They also plan disruptive intelligence-led operations targeting wanted suspects and stubborn crime threats.
Speaking to Makgale earlier this week, he said the initiative was primarily focused on being pro-active and aimed at preventative action to reduce the threat of robberies at depots and hijacking of trucks transporting cigarettes. Members of the task force will also focus on identifying the market and the end user, as these are regarded as enabling factors leading to the occurrence of the threat. He said there were other projects, which also include dealing with the smuggling of illegal cigarettes into the country.

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