Cape Town police discovered an abalone drying facility less than 200m away from one of Table View's busiest shopping strips on Wednesday, spokesperson FC Van Wyk said.
Police spotted a silver Mercedes Benz pulling up in front of the house at around noon, and its occupants started unloading black bags and carrying them into the residence in Circle Road.
The immediate area, just off Blaauberg Road, is usually bustling with shoppers going to the nearby late-night supermarket and take-away shops and there is bumper to bumper traffic during peak hours.
The police went to take a closer look and found an allegedly illegal abalone drying facility.
Minister ups abalone quota, says legal fishers can't be punished for work of poachers
They found the tell-tale gas cylinders, burners, fans, shelves and scales used in the parallel market for the expensive sea snails.
Two of the rooms were fully equipped as drying rooms and even the lounge was taken up with cardboard boxes of dried abalone, known as perlemoen locally.
Five people aged between 20 and 33, were arrested on charges relating to the Living Marine Resources Act and will appear in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, April 23.
The government usually auctions off confiscated abalone, keeping a percentage of the profit.