How secure is the cash in YOUR store?
At a special briefing held in Sandton in April, Richard Phillips, CEO of Cash Connect Management Solutions, warned that crime trends predict a surge in cash and business robberies.
While the retail sector was still reeling from the spate of violent armed robberies in December, further crime spikes are anticipated during peak holiday periods throughout the year. This was evident by the five cash-in-transit (CIT) attacks which rocked the country in the first week of April.
“All indications suggest that the retail sector experienced an escalation in robberies of over 150% in 2016. In the same period, the use of plastic explosives in attempts to steal from cash deposit devices increased by over 400%. The spike in business crime during April was anticipated – as consumers went on holiday and the volume of cash increases at shopping centres and retail stores across the country,” said Phillips.
The trends show that syndicates attack in groups of 6 to 12 armed men, with armed robberies as the highest number of attacks, closely followed by business burglaries.
The common use of plastic explosives in the execution of an armed robbery against cash deposit devices and the dramatic increase in this kind of attack suggests that criminals are enjoying an abnormally high degree of success and that many of the devices in use are not strong enough to offer the type of resistance necessary to discourage them.
Security professionals caution that robberies are more often than not executed with careful planning by organised crime syndicates who collect as much information about the target as is possible. Information about the amount of cash and the general what, when and how the cash is protected is gleaned from within the business either by observation or by the help of employees or contractors, and in some cases, both.
It is a commonly held view in the security industry that more than 90% of all attacks on business – including shopping centres and retail stores – involve voluntary or involuntary participation from the inside.
The official crime statistics for the period 2015/2016 show a 15% increase in attacks on cash in transit vehicles and while they are primarily responsible for moving the R130 billion in circulation in South Africa, the CIT industry is expected to remain high on the criminal agenda.
During April, the newly appointed Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, expressed his commitment to the establishment of a specialised police task force to approach cash crime across the country. “We welcome the Minister’s commitment in this regard,” said Phillips. “As this is an essential part of the cash industry’s response to this extremely violent and potentially crippling crime.”
Criminals are without a doubt becoming smarter and more determined in their methods. Their common use of explosives is indicative of how better skilled they are becoming.
“Time is a very important consideration of the attackers. The practice by some retail organisations, of closing their stores or, in larger operations, the cash collection precinct within the store, during the CIT collection, has proved to be a particularly successful tactic in countering and reducing the risk for attack during the store’s most vulnerable time of day,” says Phillips
He adds that in his experience only hardened and robust cash deposit devices offer meaningful resistance to the very violent attacks to which they are exposed. Over December, Cash Connect experienced 10 attacks on its cash vaults and every one of them was defended. A simple cash device that is constructed of mild steel plate and very light in weight, can’t reasonably be expected to safeguard cash.
With many of the latest attacks, CCTV footage show that criminals are able to disable alarm systems and proceed straight to the cash vault, in a manner that suggests a familiarity with the layout of the store and where the cash is kept.
Armed reaction companies suggest that businesses should make sure there is more than one panic button with quick, easy access of armed response on site. The jamming of security systems and devices is also a common tactic used to block the signals that go to the security company. The use of an alarm system connected to both a radio transmitter and landline could counter this.
“Our cash vault technology, which is built to SABS Category 4 standards, has been vigorously tested over the past few years by determined 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 attack of violent crime,” says Phillips.