South Africa: Interpol building raided five times

Gloved hand with crowbar

The high-security building housing Interpol's South Africa office has been burgled for the fifth time in three weeks.

The thieves made off with laptops, cameras and other electronics, and in one incident they may have entered the building using internal access cards, the Times Live website reports. A spokesman for Hawks, the anti-corruption unit that suffered the break-in, confirmed the incident but added: "At this stage it does not appear to be serious."

Police think the burglars want the expensive equipment. "The people involved in the first burglary may be involved in the latest incident," says police spokesman Solomon Makgale. "It is highly unlikely that those behind the burglaries are interested in the information contained on the laptops but are rather more interested in making quick cash."

But a crime intelligence source says the repeated break-ins could be a sign the thieves are looking for specific information - and simply haven't found it yet. Police say that some laptops stolen in the first burglary have surfaced in a local pawn shop.

Criminologist Rudolph Zinn says he's concerned that serial break-ins were possible in the first place, and that Interpol could respond by limiting what information employees in South Africa can access. "If it's this easy to break into this building multiple times one needs to ask what other unauthorised access has occurred," he says.

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