INSPECT: Police and crime fighters raid vacant buildings, trains in Maitland inhabited by boewe, tikkoppe and homeless mense. PICTURES BY: Monique Duval

On Saturday, police and Maitland crime fighters raided some of the most problematic buildings.

But it seemed someone had tipped off the boewe, because all cops could find was a man sleeping in a tent and a group of boys suiping skelmpies.

The buildings, situated on either side of Voortrekker Road, are mostly privately owned and the neighbourhood watch says as residents or businesses vacate, the buildings are not secured and the tikkoppe start moving in.

Many of the buildings have no electricity or water supply and police say this is because drug addicts strip the buildings of all wiring and copper pipes to sell for drugs.

SOEK: Illegal activities are said to take place at empty sites.

Graham Daniels, chairperson of the Maitland Neighbourhood Watch (MNHW) says over the years, residents have become targets for robberies and break-ins.

“As you can see, there is nothing here. They steal the wires, the beams, everything!” he says.

“The biggest problem is that this is where they smoke their drugs and burn wires.

“These buildings are also the perfect spots to hide out after stealing and breaking into homes in the area. It is very dark and they often go undetected.

“We do our best to keep an eye and report all the illegal activities, but we cannot be there all the time.”

Among the hotspots are two boarded up vacant homes along Railway Lane, said to be owned by the Passenger Railway Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

RAID: An officer searching a vagrant.

Maitland police acting station commander, Captain Louis Solomons, searched the stoep of one of the properties and found a man sleeping in a tent.

At another property, a group of underage boys were drinking papsak.

Solomons skels them and asks for their addresses.

It is later revealed that a 14-year-old boy’s mother is allegedly a prostitute who works along Voortrekker Road at night, leaving the boy to his own devices.

No arrests were made during the raid on Saturday.

Solomons also says the body of a dead woman was discovered in a derelict building on Voortrekker Road a year ago.

At the train “graveyard” behind Maitland station, members point out broken bottles, human waste and blankets as proof that these carriages are being occupied by mense.

Metrorail spokesperson, Riana Scott, says in general, these are train wrecks waiting for insurance payouts to be repaired, or to be permanently scrapped.