The Shoprite Group is investing heavily in security as it aims to address the number of criminal incidents impacting its stores.
The company said that the South African retail industry has been hit by a number of significant crime incidents, with the Shoprite Group having to contend with 489 armed robberies and burglaries in its 2018 financial year alone.
The Shoprite Group includes 2,006 stores in South Africa including 471 Shoprite branded stores, 335 USave stores, 213 Checkers stores, and 37 Checkers Hyper stores. Shoprite Group is the largest private sector employer in South Africa, with in excess of 125,000 people.
The new investments in crime prevention include a centralised command centre and anti-crime team – giving the group the ability to monitor stores and vehicles, remotely trigger security devices, follow up on crime incidents and ensure suspects are arrested.
“Through an extensive intelligence network, the command centre receives live information on strikes, protests and other incidents,” Shoprite said.
“This information can be used to react and take necessary measures to safeguard the group’s fleet on the road as well as staff and customers in its stores.”
Reduction in violent crime
Shoprite said that its efforts to keep its customers and staff safe are reflected in a reduction of contact (violent) crime incidents and increased prosecutions.
“It is a work in progress,” said the group’s loss prevention manager, Oswald Meiring.
“Incidents of violent crime and robberies are coming down, and we will continue to do everything we can to make us a harder target.”
Meiring said that arrests have increased by 200% as a result of the group increasing its capability to identify, trace and arrest suspects.
“We continue to focus on creating a safer environment for customers and staff. That is our first priority and we will go to any length to prosecute whoever is committing these crimes,” he said.
Shoprite said that it is also working closely with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and has been sharing intelligence with them to ensure that bail is successfully opposed and that prosecution of criminals is successful.
Improved tech and personnel
In addition to tracking devices, the Shoprite said that it has installed cameras and electronic locks on trucks which are managed from the command centre.
Trucks can be remotely opened and closed, with alarms triggered if trucks are stationary for a certain length of time, or if unusual driving behaviour is detected.
Since these devices were installed, there have been no incidents in transit on these vehicles, Shoprite said.
The company said it has also employed an in-house investigation team made up of experienced investigators.
It has a team of Data and Crime Analysts who utilise predictive and historical analysis of all the crime data, to identify which stores or areas should be focused on.
The group has also employed an expert criminal lawyer to assist with the successful prosecution of criminals.