Christmas is just around the corner and once again, the skelms are filling their stockings too.
In the past two months, several shops have been targeted, with thieves getting away with thousands of rands, cellphones and other valuables.
The latest incident took place on Sunday at 6.50pm at the Clicks store in Vangate Mall, Athlone.
And in recent weeks, an MTN store (October 20), a Spur restaurant in Voortrekker Road, Goodwood (November 14) and a KFC restaurant in Rosmead Centre (18 November) were raided.
But despite the spate of robberies, Western Cape police say they are not ready to raise the alarm yet.
However, several malls have indicated to Daily Voice that they will be beefing up security and relying on their state of the art CCTV surveillance cameras to help stem the tide of crime expected over the festive season.
Police have also indicated that more members will be deployed in areas where large crowds are expected.
On Sunday, four robbers marched into the Clicks while customers were still inside. The thugs held up employees at gunpoint before fleeing with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Witnesses say a woman, overcome with shock, collapsed at the scene, but was not injured.
Police say no shots were fired and no one was injured during the robbery. The suspects are still at large.
Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut says a case of armed robbery of a business is under investigation.
“Four armed suspects fled with an undisclosed amount of cash after holding employees at gunpoint. No one has been arrested as yet,” says Traut.
Susann Caminada, Clicks spokesperson, says they are aware of the incident.
“We can confirm that Clicks Vangate Mall was robbed on Sunday at 7pm and that no staff or customers were injured,” she says.
Traut told the Daily Voice on Monday provincial police were not ready to issue a festive season warning to shoppers yet.
“We do not want to create a panic and we will be issuing a warning as part of our festive season plan in the future,” he says.
“A large number of police will be deployed to areas where large amount of people gather (beaches and malls).
“We do want to tell people to be more vigilant at this time of the year.”
Gouwa Waja-Stemmet, the Marketing Manager for Centre Management at Vangate Mall, and a representative of Mustard Seed Marketing CC, on Monday said they would be increasing security at the mall.
They will also be relying on their local neighbourhood watch to assist.
“Security procedures are constantly being evaluated and tenants and staff are being educated accordingly,” she explains.
“Mall management and security are working closely with SAPS to ramp up security during the festive season.
“SAPS will provide additional manpower during this period, while working closely with a local neighbourhood watch group. Various other neighbourhood watch groups will also participate in a festive season awareness campaign.
“Private security will be substantially increased over the period, while the mall’s high-tech CCTV surveillance equipment will continue to play a vital role towards enhancing safety and security.
“Customers are encouraged to report any suspicious behaviour to the Vangate Mall security office on 021 633 1065.”
JP Smith, the Mayoral Committee member for Safety and Security, yesterday said the City is on alert.
“If you are going to involve yourself in illegal activities, you run the risk of being caught and having a not so jolly festive season,” he warns.
“As it is customary, we are increasing our staff complement to meet the demand for policing over the festive season and we will work closely with the police.’’
Louise Tordiffe, of SABRIC (The South African Banking Risk information Centre) has warned people to be careful.
“As the year comes to a close, fraudsters take advantage of the fact that consumers receive bonuses, spend more money and are generally more relaxed because they are in the holiday mode,” she says.
Meanwhile, the Daily Voice has reported on several robberies involving popular fast food restaurants and shopping malls in the past six weeks.
- The crime blitz began on a spooky note on October 20 in Worcester when skelms stole a hearse and abandoned it in the KFC drive-through to evade police.
- On the same day, MTN in Vangate Mall, Athlone was hit by four robbers who entered the store just before closing time at 7pm. They held two staff members and three customers captive at gunpoint while they ransacked the shop. The gang got away with cellphones and an undisclosed amount of cash and fled in the direction of Langa.
- On November 14, brazen gunmen walked into the Tomahawk Spur in Voortrekker Road, Goodwood, at 8.30pm and began threatening staff and customers at gunpoint before making off with an undisclosed amount of cash, cellphones and the restaurant’s speed point.
- On the same day, at Ottery Centre, in Ottery Road, six suspected hijackers were stopped in their tracks after they hijacked a truck elsewhere and cops caught up with them at the centre.
- On November 17, at the V&A Waterfront, a Fidelity cash van was hijacked and robbed while guards were refilling ATMs in the area. The suspects ordered the driver to drive to the McDonald’s in Green Point where they offloaded the cash boxes in a waiting vehicle and and fled the scene.
- On November 18, at Rosmead Centre, Rosmead Avenue, four armed robbers stormed a KFC restaurant just before 10pm and emptied money from the till before fleeing the scene.