Cam­eras worth R1.5m stolen in Rose­bank Mall bur­glary

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - BEN­JAMIN DIN

‘It doesn’t im­ply there has been a hike in heists’

FRI­DAY’S break-in at Rose­bank Mall’s Kam­eraz store was the lat­est in a string of rob­beries across South Africa, with crim­i­nals tak­ing a par­tic­u­lar fancy to jewellery and elec­tron­ics stores.

Dur­ing the early hours of the morn­ing, five men en­tered the mall through Bath Av­enue, wield­ing ham­mers, ac­cord­ing to po­lice spokesper­son Cap­tain Richard Mun­yai.

A se­cu­rity guard saw the group and ran into the guard room, while four thugs broke into the shop and loaded a large white bag with ex­pen­sive cam­eras worth about R1.5 mil­lion.

The fifth waited out­side, and the rob­bers fled the scene in a white Mercedes-Benz. No shots were fired. No ar­rests had been made and CCTV footage is be­ing viewed as part of in­ves­ti­ga­tions, Mun­yai added.

Po­lice provin­cial spokesper­son Cap­tain Mavela Ma­sondo said: “We have in­ten­si­fied po­lice vis­i­bil­ity and de­ployed more of­fi­cers to pa­trol. We are also work­ing with the se­cu­rity per­son­nel at the malls to re­port sus­pi­cious peo­ple and ve­hi­cles.”

The Con­sumer Goods Coun­cil of South Africa found that there were more than 600 armed at­tacks at shop­ping cen­tres across the coun­try last year, said Gareth Ne­wham, head of the In­sti­tute for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies’ gov­er­nance, crime and jus­tice di­vi­sion.

How­ever, one should be cau­tious about la­belling the grow­ing num­ber of rob­beries as a trend.

“There might be a spike in the mid­dle of the year, but that doesn’t mean there is a greater num­ber this year,” he said.

In fact, last year saw a re­duc­tion in armed rob­beries at shop­ping cen­tres, while the num­ber of bur­glar­ies in­creased. Rob­beries in­volve force or the threat of it, but there is no di­rect con­tact with victims in bur­glar­ies, he ex­plained.

The re­duc­tion was likely a re­sult of an in­crease the prior year, which led shop­ping cen­tres to in­tro­duce more se­cu­rity mea­sures to keep their pa­trons safe. One method was an im­prove­ment in se­cu­rity mea­sures, such as CCTV sur­veil­lance sys­tems, and cash-flow mea­sures by keep­ing smaller amounts of cash on the premises, re­sult­ing in higher risk for lower re­ward.

“It tends to change the in­cen­tives,” he said. “To walk into a shop­ping cen­tre with firearms is a high-risk en­deav­our. It’s not worth go­ing in and sub­ject­ing your­self to that kind of risk for low gain.”

Ne­wham rec­om­mended making sure the CCTV cam­eras picked up high-res­o­lu­tion footage to clearly iden­tify cus­tomers, as well as in­clud­ing the outer perime­ter within the scope of cam­eras to iden­tify get­away ve­hi­cles.

These shop­ping cen­tres were lim­ited in avail­able ways to beef up their se­cu­rity. Al­though one might jump to the idea of in­creas­ing armed guards or putting in metal de­tec­tors, that can be detri­men­tal to the goal of these malls.

In­creas­ing armed guards would in­crease the pos­si­bil­ity of armed con­fronta­tions and in­no­cent peo­ple could get killed in the cross­fire, Ne­wham added.

“The chal­lenge shop­ping cen­tres have is that they want to en­sure high vol­umes of shop­pers, so they don’t want to put metal de­tec­tors and bar­ri­ers where you walk in and out,” he said.

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