Retail cash crime remains high on the criminal agenda, particularly during this holiday period when cash volumes increase dramatically. Supplied

The festive season is fast approaching – a time of joy and festivities as we take a break from the mundane realities of everyday life.  

But, not all is rosy during this period – retail cash crime remains high on the criminal agenda, particularly during this holiday period when cash volumes increase dramatically.  

“The December holiday period is a peak trading season for SA’s retail sector, with a significant rise in cash volumes and a corresponding increase in retail cash crime, like armed robberies, burglaries, and cash-in-transit heists. While we plan our holidays and shop for Christmas gifts, criminals work from their own wish lists and seek to take advantage of opportunity presented by unsuspecting and vulnerable targets,” said Richard Phillips, joint CEO, Cash Connect Management Solutions.

“Extended retail trading hours are a valuable feature of the season but naturally increase the opportunity for crime to spike. Central business districts and coastal towns are the most high-risk areas in South Africa during December,” added Phillips.

Cash Connect, SA’s leading provider of automated cash management and payment solutions enables retailers to operate in a safe and secure trading environment with its robust cash vaults which have been proven to be the most effective deterrent to cash crime for over a decade.

With over 20 000 armed robberies in the past year, it is unfortunate that retailers have to operate in a trading environment with such a propensity for cash crime. “Our cash vault technology has been vigorously tested on numerous occasions over the past few years by determined and organised criminals using every kind of tool from explosives to sledge hammers. It has undeniably delivered on the level of deterrence and defence necessary to discourage a repetitive continuance of the scourge of violent crime,” said Phillips.

December and January don’t have to be a jolly season for criminals, but unfortunately, too many businesses still manage their cash using conventional methods, thereby posing an even greater risk of becoming a victim of criminal attack,” says Phillips.   

The most important and effective way for retailers to decrease risk is by installing an automated retail cash management and payment solution that is robust and can resist the toughest of attacks. Cash Connect’s cash vaults are built to SABS Category 4 standards. The reputation they have acquired for their ability to withstand attacks – including those carried out with explosives – provide a formidable deterrent.

But even an automated cash management solution needs vigilance and intelligent management practices to discourage criminals. These include:

Keep cash at points of sale to a minimum by regularly depositing takings into a secure cash deposit device.

Schedule ad hoc cash-in-transit collections if and when necessary, to keep cash on site as low as possible.

Keep in mind that criminals carefully survey their targets before an attack. Share your protection strategies with your staff – the criminals will soon find out that the target has been hardened and move on to easier and softer opportunities. Also be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles and people lurking in the area and tip off the police

Your staff are your allies. Encourage them to report suspicious enquiries to the business owner immediately. They should be particularly wary of anyone wanting to know about banking habits, CIT providers or CIT collection times.

Consider closing shop for a few minutes before and during cash-in-transit collections. Alternatively, isolate and close down the cash area during the collections and ensure that the room where the cash exchange or handover is being made has access restrictions.

Assist the cash-in-transit collection team by being prepared. This keeps the collection service time window short, sharp and safe.

Ensure your CCTV systems are serviced and operational - clear pictures of suspects are invaluable to the SAPS’ investigations.

“Our wish for South African retailers and their customers is a safe, peaceful and prosperous holiday period,” says Phillips. “The combination of vigilance, teamwork and secure cash management practices in stores and close cooperation among retailers, the cash management supplier and the law enforcement agencies help provide a formidable response to criminals cash crime which is big business in our country. Fighting it has to be done in an equally professional and coordinated way.”

PERSONAL FINANCE