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09 March 2011 at 22:16 - Posted by Anonymous

Store robberies dip but millions still lost


Retail crime fell to its lowest level on record last year, but retailers are still incurring losses that run into millions of rand from armed robberies and burglaries that put their staff and customers at risk.

The Consumer Goods Council of SA, which represents retailers of fast moving consumer goods, said in a report released yesterday that retailers lost about R20 million last year due to robberies and burglaries, compared with R39m in 2009.

The report excluded the value of goods lost to shoplifting and theft by staff.

This came after the number of robberies committed during trading hours at gunpoint fell 43 percent to 159 incidents. Burglaries, which are break-ins after hours, fell 26 percent to 311 compared with 2009.

“The 2010 crime figures are the lowest we have ever recorded,” said Consumer Goods Risk Initiative manager James Oosthuizen, who credited the improvement to the police. “The police are more visible and have sharpened up their act,” he said.

The highest number was recorded in 2005, when 421 armed robberies were reported.

Retailers participating in the council’s Consumer Goods Risk Initiative include Pick n Pay, Massmart, Spar, Shoprite and Woolworths.

Pick n Pay spokeswoman Tamra Veley said: “It has certainly been our experience that day-to-day incidents of crime have declined over the past year,” which she attributed to the group’s internal crime prevention measures and the greater visibility of police.

Oosthuizen said the best practices developed by the council included advising staff not to challenge armed robbers but to comply with their demands and to use alarm systems, burglar proofing, security guards and patrols. Some stores also used undercover staff to identify potential risks. He said CCTV cameras were not a strong deterrent as some perpetrators, perhaps foreigners, looked directly into the cameras.

Retail robberies occur mostly on Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays, due to the perception among criminals that more money is on site due to increased trading and non-banking during weekends.

Roelf Venter, the operations director at Spar, said one of the most important prevention strategies was to get cash out of the business as quickly as possible. Good cash management included limiting the amount tellers had in their tills and using drop safes, to which no-one at the stores had keys.

Glen Gilzean, the group director of retail operations at Woolworths, said the most prevalent crime was product theft, particularly clothing.

Venter said a big area of shrinkage for any retailer was the back door where deliveries were received.

Truck hi-jacking remained a risk to distribution, with physical and technological improvements continuously developed to reduce this risk

. - Samantha Enslin-Payne

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