PORT ELIZABETH – Police have finally closed the lid on the toilet-seat bandit.
He's been on the run for a year, but Port Elizabeth's public enemy number two was arrested on Thursday night after an irate hotel owner offered a R3,000 reward on social media for information to flush him out.
The "bathroom bandit'' had allegedly stolen three toilet seats in eight months.
The hotel's CCTV footage shows the bandit scoping out the area to ensure the coast is clear. He ignores the warning signs on the walls, before slipping into the women’s bathroom. Just five minutes later, he seems to emerge with his loot in a plastic bag.
The alleged thief was on a roll, making off with even the toilet paper, much to the amusement of some of the hotel patrons.
" Well I believe you need to bring your own now, which is a bit rough, but they do still provide toilet paper so that's okay,” said patron Peter Seale.
"I lost my sense of humour," said Phoenix Hotel owner Warrick Ofsowitz. "We got the guy on tape, we have cameras all over the hotel so we put it on our Facebook page [and got] 30,000 people. It pretty much went viral - 100,000 people saw it offering a reward of R3,000 a toilet seat for the arrest and conviction of him. Pretty much 24 hours later a person phoned and said: 'I know who he is.'"
Now the police have caught the suspect red-handed.
But Ofsowitz has been unable to unclog the mystery of what the thief did with the hotel's prized possessions.
"Good question. It's like it's got to be perverted kinky, I don't know. Psychologists can tell you what he is going to do with it or why" Ofsowitz said.
"He's got this fetish about toilets seats. We have no idea [why]."
* Video: Courtesy DStv channel 403