Johannesburg - The big five retailers lost between R2-billion and R3bn through shoplifting every year, national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega said yesterday.
At the same time, hijacking of trucks carrying goods increased by 14.9 percent in the past financial year.
Phiyega was speaking at the annual Consumer Goods Council of SA (CGCSA) summit in Johannesburg, where she urged retailers to form policing partnerships with the government to combat business crime.
Phiyega said business should provide the police with information on crime relating to their businesses in “mutually beneficial partnerships” that had already been developed in other industries.
Crimes considered rampant in the industry include shoplifting, cash-in-transit heists and highjacking of goods trucks.
The big five grocers – Shoprite, Pick n Pay, Massmart, Spar and Woolworths – were hard hit by shoplifting. The commissioner said the SAPS was able to pick up trends in the types of goods stolen.
Phiyega said goods stolen from retailers’ trucks “often find their way to many shops across the country and some to the neighbouring countries”.
“A new trend that is emerging, which we as management are not particularly proud of, is the involvement of some of our police officers.” Phiyega said her department would “root out these corrupt elements”.
Phiyega said the CGCSA, which represents many large retailers and the insurance industry, could play a role in reducing these incidents.
The CGCSA risk initiative consolidates incidents of crime among its members, enabling it to spot trends and work with the police.
CGCSA chief executive Gwarega Mangozhe said on the sidelines of the summit that jewellery, cellphones, cigarettes and baby formula were among the products most often stolen in retail outlets. He said baby formula thieves worked “on a syndicate basis”.
“The trend has certainly shown an uptake in these incidents, but since we are collaborating, we expect to see gains in the next reporting year,” said Mangozhe.
Most incidents took place around Gauteng.
“We share this information with the police, we are able to identify particular hotspots... we then go about collaborating on how we are going to reduce the incidence in that area.”
According to crime statistics, cash-in-transit robbery decreased by 20.3 percent in the past year and by 62.4 percent in the past four years.
Mangozhe said the CGCSA would roll out a secure cash distribution system in shopping malls, which would reduce the need for cash-in-transit vehicles. Bomb-proof facilities or rooms on the mall premises would receive money from retail outlets and feed it to ATMs.
If the system was rolled out in all shopping malls nationwide there would be a reduction in cash-in-transit heists. The system was already operating in four malls, with up to 10 in the pipeline.
“If there is no cash, there is no crime,” Mangozhe said.
He hoped to involve large furniture retailers, cellphone operators, restaurant chains and the clothing sector in the fight against business crime.
The latest police crime statistics show great strides have been made in combating shoplifting in the past couple of years. Shoplifting was reduced by 3.9 percent in the 2012/13 financial year and by 17.8 percent in the four years from 2009 to 2012. Over the past nine years, it decreased 12 percent.
Truck hijacking, on the other hand, increased 4.7 percent over the past nine years. But in the past four years, before it increased again in 2013/14, truck hijacking had declined a steep 34.4 percent. - Business Report