In this CCTV cemera footage, a thief is seen sneaking into Mud Jeans boutique at Levy Mall in Lusaka where he stole various items before he ran into the ceiling after police pursued him.

The incident happened at 23:30 last night, but as at 14:30 hours today, C5 police officers were still searching for the robbers in the dark woodwork and plumbing zone of the vast shopping complex.

Several witnesses gave thrilling accounts of the break in.

“It seems he was running up there after he heard gun shots, so when he reached this end, the ceiling couldn’t support his weight. He fell into our storeroom. As you can see, apparently he got a ladder which we use when placing items on display and climbed back into the ceiling,” Bata Stores manager George Kangwa narrated.

“We still haven’t checked to see if he stole anything when he fell in here, but the people from Levy Mall Central management came to view the damage.”

Closed Standard Chartered Bank branch at Levy Mall

Witnesses from Dolce Vita boutique and Sunbird Opticians explained that they were not working because they needed to clean up the flooding which was caused by sprinklers in the nearby Standard Chartered Bank after the break in.

“They never broke in here, but the shop is flooded because of the water that came from the bank. It seems the same thief triggered the fire extinguishing mechanism in there so the water reached this far,” said a witnesses who preferred anonymity.

At Mud and Jeans, shoppers were going on with their business as if nothing happened. But a supervisor took this reporter to the backroom where the thief was caught on camera packing items into a bag.

He came in through here (pointing to the ceiling). Then he started moving shelf by shelf, packing items into a bag. But apparently when he heard gunshots, he abandoned the bag and ran off back into the ceiling. We are not sure how many they were but the CCTV camera captured one on the face,” she explained.

“You can see on this camera that it as happening at 23:31 hours last night. I think there is no way that a person who doesn’t know this place can do this. It’s definitely someone who knows the mall very well.”

Take a look:

At Mobile Monsters shop, business was also going on as usual because they managed to prevent to thief from touching any of their hi-tech gadgets.

“This is not the first time. These guys used to break in here through the ceiling board and stealing phones from the backroom. Last time the thief even stayed until morning and he left the shop like a customer,” said the supervisor who also declined to be named.

“You can see from this CCTV footage that he left during the day. He just sneaked away. So last night when he came in, he went to the backroom and found nothing; and he had no access into the main shop to steal these items. But the guys who are doing this know the building well because they even disconnected four of the CCTV cameras, so they were not captured.”

Take a look:

According to a senior security guard at the Mall, police were informed of the break in around midnight.

“The C5 came almost immediately and sent one armed officer into the ceiling. He tried to search but could not find the thieves. I understand that his search light gave him some problems, it was going off, so he fired some shots. That is when the thieves now panicked and started running around. We understand that one thief was seen in the kitchen at Foodlovers Market trying to exit like a customer, but after he was identified, he ran back in the ceiling,” he narrated.

A damaged ceiling board where thieves entered into Mad Jeans shop at Levy Mall – Picture by Joseph Mwenda

“That’s why the shop is closed. But the police were frustrated as morning came because they asked the shop owners to close the shops so that they could use sniffer dogs and teargas to smoke the thieves out, but they have refused. They want to sell instead of catching the thieves. The police have even left, and the criminals are still up there in the ceiling. They haven’t been caught.”

Police spokesperson Esther Mwaata Katongo said police officers were still on the ground.

“The report we have is that some thieves were scene in some shops through CCTV and they ran into the ceiling, but I don’t have full details at the moment. Our officers are still on the ground monitoring the situation,” said Mwaata Katongo.

You wouldn’t know that there is a thief trapped in the ceiling if you went to Levy Mall because apart from Foodlovers Market, Dolce Vita Boutique, Sunbird Opticians and Standard Chartered Bank, the rest of the shops are operating normally with broken ceiling boards.