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National crime statistics 2014/2015: SA businesses remain in the danger zone

National crime statistics 2014/2015: SA businesses remain in the danger zone

National police commissioner, Riah Phiyega, announced the national crime statistics for 2014/15 highlighting another significant increase in business robberies - alarming news for South Africa’s retail sector is that crime against businesses continues to rise.

Richard Phillips, joint CEO of Cash Connect Management Solutions says, “All indications are that not only has the number of attacks increased, but the level of violence as well. Armed robbery against businesses for the 2014/15 financial year shows that there were 19,170 robberies against businesses in South Africa and an overall increase of 337% over the past 10 years.

“The reality is that this equates to 52 robberies on South African businesses per day. Retail stores where cash is the dominant medium of payment are particularly vulnerable to an armed robbery and these businesses need to take action to mitigate this risk. At this point in time nothing suggests an improvement in the situation,” adds Phillips.

Steven Heilbron, also joint CEO of Cash Connect Management Solutions says that South Africa’s largest supermarket group, Shoprite Holdings reported at a recent investment briefing on its June year end results, that there had been more than 230 armed robberies at its shops in the past 18 months, mostly around shops where social grants were paid out. 

“Hit and run type armed robberies not only threatens the safety of the customers and staff, but in many cases the target store is likely to experience a significant drop in sales for as long as six to nine months after an attack of this kind,” adds Heilbron.

Burglaries of business premises continue to rise from an already high base. Burglaries have increased by almost 33% over the past ten years to 74, 358 or a staggering 204 a day. 

“In the FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) sector we have also seen a significant increase in plastic explosive bombings,” says Phillips.

Phillips says, “Armed robbery and burglary attacks on the cash can largely be deflected in a trading environment where all of the elements of a reliable, automated, retail cash management solution are in place. This includes a device that is robust enough to create the desired level of resistance to a determined and co-ordinated attack. Such an environment encourages a positive and pleasant atmosphere that stimulates customer attendance and increased spend.”

Cash in Transit (CIT) heists showed a decrease of 18% from 145 to 119 for the year, while bank robberies declined by 19% from 21 cases to 17.  These trends all point towards a definitive shift away from professional banking and armoured car sectors to the much softer and vulnerable retailer.

What needs to be done?

Research shows that the biggest pre-emptor of theft is opportunity. That is, opportunity from within. Internal theft, fraud and insider participation in the planning of crime are some of the most common threats to the livelihood of any business. 

Dr. Johan Burger, Senior Researcher for the Institute of Security Studies adds that the upward spiral of crime against business is part of an overall rise in serious and violent crime in South Africa. The reality is that businesses are forced to increasingly invest in security, to the detriment of expanding and growing their interests and providing employment opportunities which in general contribute to our economic growth. As a consequence, we have all the right to expect Government to take hands with business and civil society to jointly tackle this threat.

Phillips says that businesses have to implement effective security measures to safeguard assets and large sums of cash in the store. It’s also important to consider changing traditional cash handling methods that by their nature, require many hands as well as people to supervise the people who handle cash.

A modern, automated cash management and payment service has proven to be an effective response to armed robbery, burglary, theft and cash shrinkage.  But the solution should make use of a cash vault that is built to minimum Category 4 SABS standards if it is going to resist most of the common methods of forced entry and deflect the criminal to softer pickings within unprotected businesses down the street.

Business owners should make use of a multi-faceted approach that will make the process of gaining illegal access to the cash, a difficult and prolonged one for even the most professional criminals. 

“No business has to be a victim of crime.  We have to continuously look for ways to safeguard ourselves. Our retail sector contributes hugely to our economy, the route to job creation, and the potential antidote to poverty.  Let’s safeguard it,” says Phillips.

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