Cameras worth R1.5m stolen in Rosebank Mall burglary
‘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.