THE actions of a quick-thinking cashier ended in the uncovering of a credit card scam, a car chase and the recovery of a stolen vehicle.
The string of events started at 09:30 on Thursday. A man (28) from Hanover Park tried to buy air time at Pep Stores in the Vangate Mall. He gave the cashier a credit card, but she became suspicious when she saw that the card was in a woman's name.
The cashier questioned the man and he became agitated and argued with her. A security officer then intervened and the man fled. He got into the passenger seat of a blue Daihatsu which held, in addition to the driver, three women and a two-year-old baby.
The driver, a 27-year-old man from Grassy Park, then sped off. Shortly after, the car crashed into a Comwezi Security blockade. Security cars surrounded the car and those inside it were forced to surrender.
The Flying Squad arrived. After investigating, they discovered that the car had been involved in an armed robbery and had been stolen in a hijacking in Diep River in April.
The police found groceries, also bought with stolen credit cards, in the boot of the car. Five people are being held at the Athlone police station.
Police are investigating possible links between them and other cases of credit card fraud - one man was found to have three outstanding warrants against him relating to credit card theft. The group will appear in the Athlone court on Tuesday 1 July. The baby will be taken care of by the family of the accused during the trial.
The day after the action, a meeting took place at the mall, involving Vangate Mall's marketing and centre managers, and Captain Andre Venter, communications officer of the Athlone police station.
Marketing manager of Vangate Mall, Toni Cavanagh, said that staff at the mall were working with the police to increase safety and to bring down crime in the area. Centre manager Cinnovea Smedley said that security and lighting had been stepped up around the centre.