Surge in business robberies in Durban

By Adryan Ogle Time of article published Jul 18, 2020

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Durban - A spate of business robberies across the greater Durban area has seen communities and security companies breaking more of a sweat to combat crime.

It is unclear whether the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions is a contributing factor, but Community Policing Forums (CPFs) and security companies have noted an increase in armed robberies at businesses in recent weeks across and on the periphery of the metro.

“Business owners should be aware that criminal attacks on retailers, manufacturers and distribution centres have been escalating,” said Blue Security community and media liaison officer Andreas Mathios.

“More disturbing is that the robbers act in numbers, thus increasing the danger to innocent individuals on the scene.”

In Summerveld on Monday night, an attempted theft from a property was brought to a halt.

Response units were dispatched after multiple panic alarm activations were received at a light industrial business premises, Mathios said.

Six suspects had accessed the property by breaking the concrete fence. They then opened the wheel nuts on two wheels of a truck that had arrived earlier and was parked on the property, he said.

“The suspects fled when disturbed by the activated panic alarm.

The truck’s wheel nuts were found scattered outside the boundary fence,” said Mathios.

CPFs have not been able to function as usual because they have not been recognised as essential services during the national lockdown.

Lower Morningside CPF chair­person Gary Manthe said business break-ins and prostitution continued to be rife in the business hub near Umgeni Road since the national lockdown started.

“There’s been an increase of this (business robberies) and I think it’s because there are a lot of people that are obviously struggling out there and they need to make some money, so they’re resorting to robbery,” said Manthe.

Metro police had been patrolling the area to mitigate crime, Manthe said, but as much as CPFs would like to help, they were inhibited from doing so at the moment.

“We’ve got a good relationship with a couple of security companies who all work together to accomplish a main goal: to try to curb crime in the area,” he said.

While Manthe said there had been quite a few business break-ins and robberies in the area, he said he could not comment further because it could compromise ongoing investigations.

In separate incidents, armed gangs (one as large as 10 suspects) recently targeted a New Germany hardware store and a Berea business, as well as holding up security guards in Reservoir Hills, Manthe said, and the spike in attacks was continuing.

Mathios added: “Reaction officers responded to a panic activation in the early hours of Tuesday morning last week at a wholesale business in Umgeni Road. The theft of goods worth about R50000 was nipped in the bud.”

The on-site guard raised the alarm when he spotted a suspect on the roof. It was later established that an unknown number of suspects had gained entry through the warehouse roof.

“The suspects had abandoned the stock on top of the building and fled,” the media liaison officer stated.

A case was opened with the South African Police Service (SAPS) for investigation. The SAPS could not corroborate the claims made by the Morningside CPF or security company.

“Unfortunately, crime stats are only released annually, after being subjected to an audit process,” said KwaZulu-­Natal SAPS spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele.

The Independent on Saturday

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