Gun-free shopping malls

October 2012 Security Services & Risk Management

Bidvest Magnum has played a key role in the plan to make shopping malls safer by enabling them to move cash in air tubes out of sight of shoppers. Doing so promises to eliminate cash-in-transit robberies and the need for armed guards to protect the money.

While it offers safety for shoppers and savings for banks and retailers, the initiative also represents a lucrative contract for Bidvest Magnum. The R6-million, eight-month pilot project spearheaded by Business Against Crime South Africa (BACSA) in one of Liberty Properties largest shopping malls proved a major success, and it is currently being extended to other shopping centres in Gauteng, and eventually in 2500 malls countrywide.

“There is huge scope for us,” says Bidvest Magnum’s national corporate account manager: Technology, Gareth Davies.

Project management consultant to BACSA and cash risk expert, Debbie Pryer, says: “Reducing the cash held by retail outlets, bank branches and ATMs and recycling it in a secure environment reduces potential injuries and deaths by removing armed cash-in-transit guards from malls and other public areas.

“It is also cost-effective.”

In the Secure Cash Distribution System, cash deliveries and collections are made to and from a cash distribution centre (CDC) in the mall through a loading bay behind reinforced walls, unseen by the public. No cash-in-transit personnel get out of a vehicle in a public area, making armed guards unnecessary, and access to the centre, through reinforced steel doors, is controlled by state-of-the-art technology.

Cash moves from retailers and banks to the CDC through a secure air tube system, so no cash is carried in public and there is no need for armed cash-in-transit guards. Radio frequency identification tags identify each depositor and the receipt of each container is covered by video surveillance to prevent any security breaches.

At the CDC, innovative counting devices designed to improve the audit trail, count, sort and recycle the cash, reducing cash-in-transit movements to cash centres and the number of times the cash is handled.

The CDC supplies, through the air tube system, the cash that bank branches and ATMs need, and retailers use the system throughout the day, even drawing their floats from the centre when required, so they hold less cash on their premises.

“In a survey to measure the satisfaction of the customers who took part in the pilot, eight of the 11 indicated that it had exceeded their expectations, while three felt that it had met theirs,” says Pryer.

Major advantages for their stores were security, because of the reduction in cash in the branch; the system being quick and easy to use; and that they can begin to earn interest immediately on their deposits. Bidvest Magnum provided closed circuit TV and remote access control equipment for the project and Global Payment Technologies provided the air tube systems.

“Major tenants have indicated that they would not only support this system elsewhere, but would wish to see it implemented at all malls where they are tenants, including medium-size malls, strip malls and the rural shopping environment,” says Pryer. “With the use of technology and increased investment in reducing crime, guards and the public can be kept safe and the costs of cash handling can be limited. Fifty-seven guns were removed daily from this shopping mall as a result of the pilot.”



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