Is cash crime on lockdown this Easter?

1 April 2020 Security Services & Risk Management

While Easter is generally a peak trading season for retailers, this has also always been one of the busiest times of the year for criminal activity – particularly at a retail level, as cash volumes rise significantly over this time. The question is, does the COVID-19 lockdown have a positive spin-off by bringing cash crime to a sudden halt or at least reduce it significantly?

Albert Erasmus, chief executive officer (CEO) of IziCash, says, “The last few years South Africa has experienced an increase in cash crime over the Easter period. This year, however, we may see a completely different picture while the national lockdown is underway and while there is a high visibility of law enforcement and defence force personnel – making it harder for criminals to go about their normal business. This should hopefully provide an automatic reduction in cash crime in particular, as organised criminals will stand out highly suspicious in a time when freedom of movement is restricted.”

Albert Erasmus, chief executive officer, IziCash.

According to the Consumer Goods Council, in the period March 2017 and 2018, retail robberies increased by 16% year-on-year, while liquor stores saw an increase of 21% in armed robberies and burglaries for the period 2018/2019.

“This year, the Easter retail trade is severely impacted with the forced national 21-day lockdown and only retailers providing essential services allowed to trade. While liquor stores were major targets for criminals the past two years, their doors are now shut – providing little or no temptation for an armed robbery,” says Erasmus.

Recently, police minister Bheki Cele welcomed the “general decrease in serious and violent crimes,” since the nationwide coronavirus lockdown started on 27 March.

“We can only hope that this lockdown will flatten the curve on the spread of COVID-19 and similarly on cash crime. For retailers who are trading and providing essential services to our country, this should provide some relief of reduced risk, especially in a time of great economic uncertainty,” adds Erasmus.

With long-kept traditions, Easter will most certainly remain a key celebratory event on the South African calendar, even if just indoors.

As high cash volumes always pose a risk for criminal activity, IziCash urges retailers who will be trading to ensure they remain vigilant and plan their cash services, like regular and frequent cash collections through an accredited CIT (cash in transit) company. Here are a few tips retailers can consider to reduce their risk:

• Clear cash from tills regularly and keep cash volumes as low as possible.

• Arrange regular and frequent cash collections from your business.

• Coordinate with your CIT company to change or amend the routine times for collections or deliveries.

• Be prepared – CIT officers must complete the transaction as quick as possible.

• Take note of suspicious vehicles and people in the vicinity of your business and report immediately to the SA Police Service or your CIT company.

• Check and confirm that your alarm and CCTV systems are in good working order.

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