A security guard died after he was shot during a robbery at Gateway Shopping Centre. Picture: Reaction Unit SA
A security guard died after he was shot during a robbery at Gateway Shopping Centre. Picture: Reaction Unit SA

What to do in a mall robbery ahead of the festive season that may ‘save your life’

By Karen Singh Time of article published Oct 13, 2021

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DURBAN - As dozens of shoppers will be flocking to malls as the festive season approaches, security solutions provider Fidelity Services Group has offered advice on what people should do if they are caught in a robbery at a shopping centre.

This follows several brazen armed robberies at shopping malls in KZN this year. A security guard died after being shot during an armed robbery at a jewellery store at Gateway Shopping Centre last month.

The group said that as we approach the festive season, the risk of mall robberies unfortunately increases and knowing what to do in the event of a mall robbery was extremely important.

“Knowing what to do in the event of a mall robbery could save your life," it said.

Chief executive of Fidelity Services Group, Wahl Bartmann, said customers always need to remain vigilant and should always be on the lookout for any suspicious activities and be aware of the people around them.

“The golden rule if you ever are caught in the middle of a heist is to stay calm," he said.

If you are in the store that is being robbed:

  • Co-operate with robbers for your own safety. Listen to their instructions closely and follow their instructions.
  • Try to keep as calm as possible. Everyone reacts differently, but try to breathe deeply until help arrives.
  • Do not use your cellphone while the robbery is in progress as this could agitate the assailants.
  • Immediately try to find a sheltered spot and keep low to the ground.
  • Take note of the assailants to pass information on to the authorities – what they were wearing, any distinctive clothes, markings, jewellery etc. Try to remember what they look like – height, weight, etc.
  • Ensure your children are always kept close to you. Do not let children wander off while you are shopping.
  • Do not shop with large amounts of cash or valuables.

If you are not in the store being robbed:

  • Speak to the store personnel to firstly close the roller shutter doors. This is also standard operating procedure in many malls. Move to the back of the store, out of sight.
  • Try to find a store closest to you and secure yourself as described above.
  • Do not try to exit via the standard entry and exit points as these are the same points the robbers will be using. Many malls now have standard operating procedures to lock down the mall.

Bartmann said crime is becoming more sophisticated, with inside information playing an increasingly prominent role.

"Whether you were in the store being robbed, or just witnessed the incident in the centre, you should seek counselling, regardless of how you might feel. It often takes some time to experience and deal with the post-traumatic stress following such robberies," he added.

THE MERCURY

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