‘Follow-home’ robberies on the rise

2010-09-01 13:09

There has been a 36% increase in robberies in which people are followed after withdrawing or while going to deposit money, the SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) said.

“Members of the public should be wary of dangers associated with the carrying of large sums of cash as a result of increasing trends of follow-home robberies linked to the usage of banking services,” Sabric CEO Kalyani Pillay warned in a statement.

She said that “follow-home” robberies occurred in different contexts, where criminals identified victims in advance.

The increase this year was lower than the 55% increase recorded between 2008 and last year, but it was still of concern.

“Having large sums of cash on you is really what creates opportunities for perpetrators of this crime, and simple behavioural changes such as opting to make electronic transfers into beneficiary accounts can completely eliminate the risks associated with carrying of cash for both individuals and small business persons,” she said.

She also cautioned against paying casual labourers cash in public.

Pillay said allegations that the robberies were linked to bank staff collusion could not be substantiated.

Sabric had found that organised groups identified their victims long before the attacks and it was not unusual for group members to roam around banking halls scouting for people making large cash withdrawals.

“We are aware of incidents where people were robbed of really huge sums of cash that they should not have carried on their own person in the first place,” she said.

Robberies of this nature occurred nationally, in the metropolitan areas of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town, and with small business operators.

They were often associated with services at banks or at airports.

To avoid such robberies, Sabric recommend electronic banking such as internet, cellphone or ATM transfers instead of cash withdrawals.

It recommended ask banks for advice on when the best time was to do certain types of transactions; being alert when en route to deposit cash or after withdrawing cash; and informing the police of any suspicion of being followed.

It also advised people to ensure they were accompanied by someone they trusted when withdrawing or depositing large sums of cash; only withdrawing the amount of cash needed; and changing banking times to avoid routine.

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