MONEY ON THE MOVE
The theft of the tote takings at a Vodacom Durban July hospitality marquee this year followed a bold cash heist a few months earlier at the FNB Stadium, where thieves engineered their way into the stadium strong room after Justin Bieber and Bon Jovi perfo
These brazen robberies have shifted the spotlight once more to cashin- transit robberies, which have increased by 18 per cent for the year- todate, compared to the same period last year, according to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre ( SABRIC). In KwaZulu- Natal alone, there were 19 cash- in- transit ( CIT) heists last year, while this year there have already been 29 heists.
According to SAPS crime statistics, incidents of cash- in- transit heists rose from 192 reported cases in 2003– 2004, to 467 cases in 2006– 2007. The figure dropped to 291 cases in 2010– 2011 and then again in 2011– 2012 to 182 reported cases, with incidents occurring primarily in Gauteng, followed by KwaZulu- Natal.
With no major developments or arrests in the investigation of either the Durban July or the FNB Stadium heists, both incidents remain a stark warning for businesses with high cash turnover to review how they manage their risk, says Shehnaz Somers, Santam’s head of commercial underwriting. While investigations are underway to determine the precise financial loss in each case, the skill and frequency of these thefts is becoming worryingly apparent, she adds.
“The perception that the use of electronic fund transfers and increase in card transactions has led to a reduction in the amount of cash in circulation is incorrect. The reality is that there is a lot more cash in circulation. Retailers must ensure that they have adequate cover in respect of the main cash limits in terms of the amounts transported and/ or stored by approved cash- intransit carriers.
Retailers who experience high cash volumes need to ensure that there is no shortfall between
the capacity of the cover purchased and the actual takings. Should this not be the case, this means a significant portion of those takings are self- insured,” says Cornel Schoeman, commercial executive at Genric Insurance Company.
Chief executive of SABRIC, Kalyani Pillay, says the startling increase is attributed to: • A more aggressive approach by perpetrators towards security guards. Various factors that may influence the increased use of violence include the advantage of the element of surprise and limited opportunity for guards to retaliate. • Repeat offender involvement due to previous successes. • Prolonged investigation and court processes are not regarded as a preventative measure. Despite significant convictions in some cases, prosecution tends to take a long time before being finalised.
Pillay points out that the highest risk currently is “cross- pavement risk” or that point where the money is being transported out of businesses to cash- in- transit vehicles. “However, various security measures have been put in place. These relate to the training of security guards, joint efforts and sharing of information between industry and law enforcement, target hardening of cash carrying devices and business premises.”
The number of security guards deployed with each armoured vehicle varies according to the client's requirements. Chris Pretorius, chief operating officer at Polygon Underwriting Agency ( a specialist in cash- in- transit insurance), says the level of security varies between different armoured vehicles. “For example, an armoured vehicle that is certified to carry higher limits of cash will have different security measures compared to an armoured vehicle that is authorised to carry smaller amounts,” he says.
Pretorius says there are roughly 2 500 cashin- transit vehicles currently in use by the four biggest cash- in- transit providers in South Africa. “However, there are a number of smaller operators that may, in some areas, sub- contract to the main CIT companies and the vehicles used by these companies are not taken into account in that figure of 2 500,” he says.
Somers says the recent spate of cash- in- transit robberies is concerning. “The methods used by thieves are becoming increasingly complex and companies have sought new ways to combat this type of crime.” One of the deterrents includes the use of a cash staining dye within the cash box, which is a highly corrosive ink originally designed to destroy the cash. It is predominantly used to indelibly mark the cash and make it difficult to use.
“More recently, we’ve seen cash- in- transit companies such as G4S Cash Solutions announce robber- proof foam shields for their vans, as a means of mitigating their risk,” adds Somers. Earlier this year, G4S Cash Solutions revealed that it would be rolling out the new technology on 40 cash vans.
The foam is activated on any attempt to open the van’s back door when not in a secure location and once the door has been locked, not even the driver will be able to open it.
When triggered, two chemicals are forced at high pressure from cylinders in the armoured vehicle’s vault. The chemicals combine into rapidly expanding foam which hardens to form a rubber barrier between the vehicle door and the vaults. Hannes Venter, the sales director at G4S, says the foam shield is intended to deter criminals and will replace armed security personnel in the back of the van. “The foam cannot be burned by chemicals or fire, neither can it explode or crack if shot at,” he says.
Somers mentions that security will always be a challenge for any cash business. “Businesses must be aware of the risks to which they are exposed. By not having correct systems in place for their premises, money and personnel, and if they have inadequate insurance cover, the business owner could face devastation.” Pillay offers the following advice for businesses that use cash- in- transit vehicles: • Create a safe environment for CIT staff when service is being delivered. • Comply with the minimum standards. • Minimise the time spent by CIT guards on the premises. • Acknowledge the risk around CIT services and allow them space to conduct the service as quickly as possible. • Prioritise CIT services – some businesses close during service delivery.
“Highly secure environments are still exposed to a significant number of risks which must be taken into account, managed and have insurance procured for,” says Somers.
" We work together with our clients to identify their risk exposure by surveying their business where necessary and advising them on risk mitigation which may include risk transfer via an insurance policy to make sure that they are fully covered and advising them on other precautions they may take,” she adds.