Joburg Laptop Theft

by Anon
(South Africa)

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski

I was on a business trip with 3 other guys from work. We were going to a trade show in Santon City, Johannesburg in South Africa. We arrived at the airport in the late afternoon, made the trip to our accomodation and realised we needed to organise something to eat for ourselves. We were staying at a "Bed and Breakfast" place, so we were on our own as far as supper was concerned.

We decided to bundle ourselves into the hired car and head out in search of a bite to eat. After quite a long drive and much argueing about which place to get food from, we finally settled on a "Steers" burger place.

We hadn't yet unpacked all our luggage, so we still had laptops, documents and various items of clothing in the boot of the car. Once we had found a parking spot, we got out and gestured to the security guard for the place to make sure he looked after our car. He gave us a "thumbs up" and all four of us walked across the dark parking lot to the bright lights of the Steers burger joint.

It took about 20 minutes for us to order and get our food. We decided it would be easiest to eat it at one of the tables in Steers. This took another 10 - 20 minutes. Once we were done, we walked back to the car, gave the guard a few coins and headed "home". We were seriously tired after the flight and all the planning we had done for the next day's trade show.

When we arrived at the Bed and breakfast, my coworker who had been driving popped open the boot for us to get our things and...


We just stood there in shock! The driver insisted that he had definitely pressed the remote control button on the car keys to LOCK the car after we had parked it at Steers. We all agreed that we had heard the "BEEP" sound cars always make when they lock!

After some hurried discussion, two of the guys were getting fired up and wanted to rush back there and BEAT UP the security guard who was supposed to be protecting our car! Surely he must have had something to do with this!

Myself and the other guy tried our best to be rational and calm these two down, but they were not willing to listen. They left in a hurry to find the car guard and discover what had happened.

When they finally returned, they told us that criminals must have used one of those electronic gadgets to "capture" the coded signal coming from our car remote when we "beeped" it to lock the doors. Once we were out of sight of the car, they must have "replayed" the signal to the car using their device, this unlocking the doors.

They got away with 4 laptops, an ipad, 2 cameras, some clothes and a cell phone. We were all furious! We did learn something that evening though.
Criminals are getting more and more sophisticated every day.
We just fell prey to a pretty high tech team of crooks. A very difficult crime to detect or prevent!

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Nov 18, 2014
Double lock!
by: Nadine

This seems to becoming more and more popular in parking areas. I make it policy to double lock and to check that the car really is locked before I walk away. I've also heard the suggestion not to point your remote when locking the car so that the criminals cannot see when exactly you do it.

Nov 18, 2014
'Electronic crime" exists
by: Evan

Hi there Anon,

Thank you for your detailed story! I'm surprised that this really happens. I had heard about this kind of "electronic crime", but had not spoken to anyone who actually fell victim to it. I hope you at least got an insurance pay out?

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