News Column

Sabric Speaks Out On Bank Robberies

July 24, 2014

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) says it is concerned over the increase in robberies, where there have been numerous fatalities.

During the past six months, six banking customers were killed in associated robbery incidents after they were either followed to or from the bank after making large withdrawals or going to the bank to make deposits.

According to Sabric, there has been a 33% increase nationally in associated robbery incidents over the past 12 months when compared with the same period (January to June) a year ago.

Gauteng is where most of these associated robberies occur, with 53% of the incidents being reported. It is closely followed by KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape with 14% and 11% of incidents reported respectively.

"We are, however, pleased to report that we have seen decreases of this crime in both in the Eastern and Western Cape Provinces," Sabric said in a statement.

The common modus operandi of these criminals is to designate "spotters" that look out for people making large cash withdrawals inside bank branches, as this provides them with the opportunity to commit their crimes.

Once a potential victim is identified, the spotter passes on the information to the co-perpetrators, who are usually in the vicinity of the bank. The co-perpetrators in turn rob the individual, either at his place of business, home or en route to their destination.

"These criminals are ruthless in their operation and will not hesitate in taking the lives of those they want to rob. For this reason, we caution the public to be aware of this and practice other methods of banking rather than carry large sums of cash," said SABRIC CEO Kalyani Pillay.

This crime could affect any bank customer, ranging from small businesses, stokvels and individuals.

The industry would like to encourage bank customers to utilise alternate banking methods.

"There are numerous options available such as cell phone or internet banking or using the ATM to do your banking transactions. If you are going to withdraw large sums of money, we encourage you to consider utilizing some of these options," said Pillay.

Crime Line has appealed to the public to be vigilant. The minute you notice suspicious activity or suspect that you are being followed, call 10111 or drive to your nearest police station or a place of safety.

Crime Line also calls on members of the public, who have information about planned robberies or crimes, to call Crime Stop on 08600 10111 or SMS 32211 (Cost R1).

Tips to avoid being a victim of cash robberies for individuals

- If you need to pay accounts, consider options that are lower risk instead of withdrawing large sums of cash.

- Carry as little cash as possible.

- Consider the convenience of paying your accounts electronically (consult your bank to find out about other available options).

- Consider making use of cell phone banking or internet transfers or ATMS to do your banking.

Tips to avoid being a victim of cash robberies for businesses

- Alternate the days and times on which you deposit cash.

- Never make your bank visits public, even to people close to you.

- Do not openly display the money you are depositing while you are standing in the bank queue.

- Avoid carrying money bags, briefcases or openly displaying your deposit receipt book.

- It's advisable to identify another branch nearby that you can visit to ensure that your banking pattern is not easily recognizable or detected.

- If the amount of cash you are regularly depositing is increasing as your business grows, consider using the services of a cash management company.

- Refrain from giving wages to your contract or casual labourers in full view of the public rather make use of wage accounts that can be provided by your bank.

- Refrain from driving to the bank in your company branded vehicle on a typical 'pay day'.

- Consider arranging for electronic transfers or wages to your contract or casual labourers' personal bank accounts.

Tips to avoid being a victim of cash robberies for savings clubs and stokvels

- Refrain from making cash deposits of club members' contributions on high risk days (e.g Monday after month end).

- Ensure persons depositing club cash contributions or making withdrawals are accompanied by another club member.

- A stokvel, savings club burial society can arrange for members to deposit cash directly into the club's account instead of collecting cash contributions

- Arrange for the club's pay-out to be electronically transferred into each club member's persona account or accounts of their choice.

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Source: AllAfrica

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