Nielsen SA. Image: Nielsen website.
CAPE TOWN - The Johannesburg offices of Nielsen South Africa were broken into on Wednesday evening, with robbers fleeing with a combination of laptops, PCs and hard drives containing sensitive clients information.

Nielsen spokesperson Alisa Wingfield confirmed to Business Report that the robbery took place on but denied that sensitive information was was breached only confirming that there was hardware stolen.

Nielsen is a global marketing research firm with worldwide reach contracted by a number of large corporations within South Africa, including, Unilever, SAB, Colgate, Distell and British American Tabacco.

The companies contract Nielsen to track customer trends and to collect data for operational use. A source close told to Business Report that the clients had not been informed of the robber but Wingfield said they had been notified. She said the clients would not face a data breach as the data was encrypted.

Captain Lorraine van Emmerick, the Communications Officer for Booysens South African Police Service (SAPS), confirmed that the police are investigating a case of Business Robbery. "I can confirm that a robbery took place at Nielsen SA on Handel Road, Ormonde Johannesburg. We are currently busy with the investigation," she said, adding that two security guards at the premises were tied up during the robbery, however, no one was injured.

When pressed on the nature of the contents stolen from the property, Van Emmerick said, "At the moment, information regarding this case remains extremely sensitive and i can not divulge such information at this point in time."

Business Report made contact with above mentioned companies and were still awaiting response at the time of publishing.

This is a developing story.