Kolonade centre in Pretoria

Pretoria - The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has warned business owners of a spike in robberies in shopping malls and that they should brace themselves for an increase in the number of robberies in future.

This is against the backdrop of numerous shopping centres being targeted by robbers, with the most recent incident occurring on Tuesday when a Telkom Connect store in the Kolonnade Mall was robbed of electronic goods worth R200 000.

Telkom spokesman Pynee Chetty said he could not comment on the robbery as he was out of the province and had little information.

Dr Johan Burger of ISS said armed robberies were on the increase and showed no sign of abating.

“Indicators show an incredible increase in the number of business robberies, especially over the past three years and people should expect an increase when the next statistics are released by the South African Police Service later this month,” he said.

He lamented the troubled Crime Intelligence Unit’s inability to cope with the spike in these crimes.

“We need intelligence-led investigations which will lead to arrests and ultimately be able to pre-empt these crimes.

“But the intelligence unit has been troubled for quite some time and is failing to be effective,” Burger said on Wednesday.

Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said police were concerned about the recent incidents of robberies where businesses in the malls were being targeted.

“Police are also looking at (CCTV) footage to establish if the same groups of suspects are involved in all the robberies. The Provincial Investigating Unit has been tasked to investigate,” he said.

Dlamini said police were working with business owners to prevent robberies.

“Part of the solution would be to beef up security. sector patrols (that) are being deployed around the business centres.

“Police are also appealing to members of the community visiting the malls and other business centres to report any suspicious people and vehicles.”

Several shopping centres have been hit over the past few months.

On Monday, six men robbed a pair of cash-in-transit guards at Maponya Mall.

The men apparently pointed a gun at the security guards, ordering them to hand over the money before running away.

Earlier in the day at Northgate mall, two men robbed a cellphone shop. The manager was forced into the back office, where they took money and cellphones, then fled.

No one was injured.

On July 4, a man was shot and injured when six armed men robbed the Vodacom Chatz store in Mayville Mall in Pretoria. Despite members of the community chasing the suspects, they managed to get away, leaving behind an AK-47 assault rifle. The owner of the store was hit on the head with a firearm and injured before being locked in a storeroom.

On August 13, the iStore at Cresta Shopping Centre was robbed and one person was injured when the gang made their getaway. A day later, The Glen’s iStore was also robbed. The iStore at Centurion Mall was robbed of goods worth over R1 million on August 22.

Burger said the increase could be a result of the black market changing, with criminals turning their focus from jewellery shops to electronic shops.

“The market could be in Africa or outside of Africa and this could be the reason why there is a change in trends in this regard and why electronics are being targeted.”

He said one of the measures that can be taken by stores is to limit the amount of stock they hold.

Business Against Crime South Africa’s chief executive Simi Pillay-van Graan says they intend introducing a number plate recognition system that would alert police to a stolen vehicle as it entered a business premises.

“We are working with security companies and police to make sure these robberies are prevented,” she added.

Pretoria News