Warning for shopping malls and petrol stations in South Africa

 ·19 Jun 2024

Security firm Fidelity ADT has warned retail businesses and petrol stations that there has been a rise in criminals targeting their shops—and consumers are also advised to exercise caution.

On 18 June, Charnel Hattingh, the Group Head of Marketing and Communications at Fidelity ADT, highlighted an alarming surge in business robberies.

She noted that criminals are increasingly targeting retail establishments like clothing stores in shopping malls and garage shops at petrol stations, which are easily accessible targets.

The criminal’s main target is cash from the tills, but there is potential for these robbers to turn their attention to consumers’ valuables, such as their smartphones, jewellery, and money.

As a result, Fidelity ADT has advised cation for both business owners and going consumers.

“Business owners are urged to maintain a high level of vigilance, ensure the functionality of their CCTV systems, and remain alert for any suspicious activities.

“It is recommended that at least two staff members carry concealed panic buttons at all times,” said Hattingh.

Additionally, she added that visitors to these outlets are advised to exercise extra caution.

“While these criminals’ primary target is the cash from the till rather than the customers, the situation remains at a heightened state of alert,” she said.

Hattingh emphasised that the potential for a robbery to escalate into violence can be mitigated through the behaviour of both staff and customers.

She added that both visitors to the store or shop and its employees should not resist, stay relaxed, not set off any siren, and do exactly what they’re told.

Concerningly, insurance companies also noted that shops and stores aren’t the only targets.

Earlier this year, Santam warned that hijackers were increasingly targeting vehicles, shopping malls, petrol stations, and even schooling events.

The insurer added that hackers have shifted from older, low-value vehicles with limited security requirements to more expensive double cabs and SUVs, including Toyota Landcruisers and Prados.

Unfortunately, South Africa has seen an increase in robbery at commercial premises, shoplifting, and hijackings year-on-year, with some provinces experiencing a bigger jump in these crimes than others.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) latest quarterly crime states show that cases of ‘other serious crimes’ have increased by 2.7% in South Africa.

Other serious crimes include commercial crime, shoplifting, and other types of theft.

However, commercial crime has increased by a significant 17.3%, while shoplifting has risen by 4.8%.

Additionally, hijackings have increased by 6.5% year-on-year, and this equates to approximately 66 cars being stolen daily.

Most commercial crime incidents occur in the most populated provinces, such as Gauteng (34.3%), the Western Cape (19.6%), and Kwa-Zulu Natal (16.1%).

Western Cape also experienced the biggest increase in commercial crimes, jumping 19.8%. This was followed by Gauteng (19.7%) and the Eastern Cape (19.6%).

However, when considering shoplifting, Limpopo showed the biggest increase of 9.7% compared to Gauteng, which showed a 7.5% increase in cases.

According to the SAPS, similar provinces experienced a notable year-on-year increase in hijackings: Gauteng (14.4%), the Western Cape (14%), and the North West (11%).

Interestingly, Kwa-Zulu Natal saw a 17.6% decrease in carjackings, followed by the Eastern Cape (-5.2%).

Read: Hijackers have changed their ‘business hours’ in South Africa

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