Page last updated at 13:38 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

Mystery of SA 'Robin Hood thief'

Someone handling South African rand
Police are investigating whether the cash was not some kind of payment

South African police say they are baffled by a modern-day "Robin Hood" who handed out money he stole from a mansion to servants who worked there.

He took expensive jewellery and 50,000 rand ($6,320; £3,870) from a safe and a firearm from a house in an affluent Cape Town neighbourhood, police say.

As the man was about to make his escape he asked staff members if they needed money, and left behind 10,000 rand.

Police say he is an enigma as he wore clothes recently stolen from the house.

Two weeks ago a man in a balaclava broke into the residence in Constantia and got away with a few items of clothes.

Our robber is either very dumb or very smart
Captain Andre Venter

Police believe the same man targeted the house this week, saying it was the clothes and his "Afrikaans-German accent and thin moustache" that gave him away.

"What kind of robber returns to the same house wearing clothes he stole there earlier - steals again without even covering his face and then gives away money in the end?" police spokesperson Captain Andre Venter told the BBC.

Capt Venter, who has served in the South African Police Service (Saps) for 27 years, described this robbery as "one-of-kind".

"Our robber is either very dumb or very smart," he said.

"He was poised during the robbery, calmly walking into every room of the mansion. He was comfortable and un-agitated, unlike uncharacteristic of robbers in similar situations."

The robber made the seven staff members and two residents at home at the time tie each other up in the kitchen while he looted the home.

A third person who lived on the property was forced to show him around - with a gun pointed at his head.

The possibility of an inside-job has not been ruled out, said Capt Venter.

"We are looking at all possibilities. Our police are also investigating if this was a really a case of Robin Hood, or if the money was some kind of payment," he said.

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