CHAOS and confusion broke out in the Walmer Park shopping centre in Port Elizabeth yesterday morning as three robbers, one of them armed and two in disguise, emptied out the safe of The Scoin Shop and fled with hundreds of precious coins.
The robbery, which took barely two minutes, happened so quickly that few people were aware of what was taking place.
Staff and shoppers passing by the small retailer were unsure what to make of the bizarre scene, as the men – one dressed as a sangoma, another wearing a burqa and a third dressed normally – walked into the shop and had what looked like a heated argument with the staff.
It was not until the odd trio sprinted out of the shopping centre’s side entrance minutes later, with coins falling out of their bags, that security staff realised what had just happened.
Walmer Park centre manager Leonie Scheepers said the incident at 9.15am yesterday had lasted just minutes, from what she had seen on closed circuit camera footage.
"These men knew what they wanted – it was very efficient,” she said. "They walked in while the staff were stock-taking, and got into the electronic safe and one of the glass shelves extremely quickly.”
The shop specialises in gold Krugerrands, valuable medallions and other collectable coins. Its marketing department declined to specify the coins stolen or their value.
The robbers left the building through the Dischem entrance, where they were picked up by two people in a dark blue Citi Golf. "I got there about 10 minutes after it happened and people were still picking coins up off the floor,” Scheepers said.
Police found the getaway car abandoned in Sparrow Road, Greenshields Park.