Last year Easter, at least six shopping malls were robbed in Durban alone, and that goes without mentioning the spate of cash in transit heists and retail armed robberies that occurred over the same period. What can South Africa expect over this upcoming Easter period?
“March 2017 leading up to Easter, was the worst month for armed robberies in 2017,” says Richard Phillips, joint CEO of Cash Connect. “Given the unprecedented increase in cash related robbery over the past 12 months we expect that the month of March will most likely see more cash and more cash crime.”
As consumers get ready to enjoy the Easter holidays, so do criminals. Despite the availability of electronic transacting options, consumers still choose cash as their preferred means of payment with close on 84% of all transactions still conducted with cash.
Highly organised and audacious criminals are aware of this. They also know that around 72% of retailers deal with their cash takings in a traditionally manual way. These retailers present easy and lucrative targets to criminals who have sophisticated resources at their disposal and are often fully informed of what goes in inside their targets.
Phillips stresses that the law enforcement, crime intelligence and criminal justice community has failed to respond adequately to this “economic warfare”. The inability to contain these organised gangs threatens the very core of our cash economy and all who depend on it.
As a result, the cash economy is increasingly under attack. Conservatively speaking, the cash-in-transit industry suffered at least 256 armed robbery attacks in 2016, and 367 in 2017.
Similarly, there was a total increase of 10.3% from 2016 to 2017 in shopping centre incidents and while there was a marginal decrease in day time armed robberies against high street retailers, late night armed robberies rose by over 30%.
As the leader in automated cash management solutions, Cash Connect’s robust cash vault technology has proven to be the most effective deterrent in the retail market. The reality however is that many retail businesses still trade with large volumes of cash on site and to add to their vulnerability they lack any form of robust cash device to protect their cash.
Although Phillips believes that an automated cash management and payments platform is an essential element of any modern successful retail business, he says that business owners who do have manual cash handling processes are not without options. Security professionals identify several steps retail owners can take to safeguard their businesses this Easter season.
Smart and safe cash handling
Make use of electronic transfers to avoid paying wages in cash to your staff.
Avoid broadcasting when cash will manually be taken to the bank for deposit.
Alternate the days and times on which you deposit cash.
Do not openly display the money you are depositing while you are standing at an ATM or in a bank queue.
Avoid carrying money bags or briefcases when approaching an ATM or when standing in a bank queue.
Alternate between bank branches or ATMs so your banking pattern is not easily recognisable.
When your cash is being collected, consider closing shop for a few minutes before and during cash-in-transit collections. Alternatively, isolate and close the cash office area during the collection time.
Assist the cash-in-transit collection team by being prepared. This keeps the collection service time window short, sharp and safe.
Take the time to investigate converting to an automated cash management service and take away all the risk inherent in the above and realise meaningful savings and efficiencies.
Research has shown that a staggering 90% of attacks on businesses are carried out with information gleaned from employees or contractors. “Stores using our cash vaults were attacked far less than any other despite an over 30% increase in attacks against the industry in the past year,” says Phillips. “The fact that more than 87% of these attacks against our customers were unsuccessful, clearly demonstrates the success of our strategy to deter, deflect, and defend.”