Alcohol. Photo by Chan Walrus from Pexels

While everything was locked down, daring thieves dug a tunnel and stole huge amounts of booze from a Shoprite Liquorshop in Newtown Junction, Johannesburg.

Liquor sales had been banned during level five and four of the COVID-19 lockdown. That is when the thieves struck and made off with an assortment of booze that included whiskey, brandy, gin, ciders, vodka and beer worth about R300,000.

The theft which involved boring through a concrete floor was only discovered on Friday because liquor outlets had been shut since the lockdown began at the end of March.

A manager of the liquorshop was shocked to discover a large hole in the ground when she opened the store to prepare for the much-publicised lifting of the liquor ban on Monday.

With alcohol in high demand during the hard lockdown, the store was tightly secured or so the owners thought – until thieves found a way in through the floor.

The thieves avoided the mall’s main entrance and instead used electrical and storm-water tunnels beneath the shopping centre to gain access to an area beneath the store.

They then tunneled through the solid concrete floor directly into the liquor shop to gain access undetected.

It is unclear how the thieves knew where to tunnel. No one knows how long it took them to get through the thick concrete floor, but it seems they made several trips to be able to steal such a large amount of stock.

Oswald Meiring, the Shoprite Group’s Loss Control Manager, says CCTV shows that 10 days before the liquor ban three people were recorded inside the store.

They might have had other accomplices that remained in the tunnel suggests Meiring who confirmed the theft. No arrests have been made yet.

A R50,000 reward, subject to terms and conditions, has been made available for information which leads to a successful arrest. People with information can call 0800 118 879 or email


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