IN September, the South African Police Service (SAPS) announced that commercial crime increased by more than 14% this past period, with 83 823 cases reported. These crimes include fraud, embezzlement, corruption, forgery, money laundering, and certain cybercrimes.Fidelity ADT KwaZulu-Natal District Manager Vaughan Pillay said: “It does seem that business-related crimes involving physical force declined for the year being reported on by the police, but that does not mean that business owners can now relax and drop their guard.” Pillay said there is a continuing need for preventative measures to deter any criminal activity.Adding to this, communications officer at a KZN police station, Captain Linzi Smith said: “Business robberies are on the increase and, with the festive season upon us, [it is] obvious businesses and the community are at risk of becoming victims.” “If we can please make the community more vigilant about putting equipment and items away and not [leaving them] visible outside their premises. “During the day and at night, try keeping security gates locked if you are leaving doors open. If you have security guards, they need to be more vigilant with vehicles driving slowly past the premises,” she said.SMITH OFFERED SOME SAFETY TIPS FOR BUSINESS OWNERS:- Keep a low balance in the cash register.- Place excess money in a safe or deposit it as soon as possible.- Stay alert. Know who is in your business and where they are. Watch out for people who are hanging around without buying anything. Also, be aware of suspicious activity outside your place of business. Write down license numbers and vehicle details of suspicious vehicles if they are visible from the inside of your business.- Make sure the sales counter can be seen clearly. Don’t put up advertisements, flyers, displays, signs, posters, or other items on windows or doors that might obstruct the view from inside of your business.- Try to greet customers as they enter your business. Look them in the eye and ask them if they need help. Your attention can discourage a potential robber.- Keep your business well-lit, inside and outside. Employees should report any burned-out lights to the business owner, supervisor or manager. Keep trees and bushes trimmed so they don’t block any outdoor lights.- If you see something suspicious, call the police at 10111. Never try to handle a situation yourself.- Make sure important signs stay posted. For example, the front door should bear signs that say, “Clerk Cannot Open the Time Lock Safe.”- Don’t just open the door if someone calls to be buzzed in. Often staff will open doors without checking that the person is there for legitimate reasons. This information needs to be cascaded to all staff working at a business premises.- Staying vigilant at all times can help prevent a traumatic incident. In the event of a business robbery, follow the below advice:- If your business is being robbed, put your safety first. Your personal safety is more important than money or merchandise.- Don’t talk except to answer the robber’s questions.- Cooperate with the robber for your own safety and the safety of others. Comply with a robber’s demands and remain calm and think clearly. Make mental notes of the robber’s physical description and other observations important to the police.- If you have a silent alarm and can reach it without being noticed, use it. Otherwise, wait until the robber leaves.- Be careful. Most robbers are just as nervous as you are.- Prevent surprises; keep your hands in sight at all times.- Don’t make any sudden moves.- Don’t chase or follow the robber out of your place of business but do get, if possible, a direction of travel; vehicle colour, make, and description; and a description of the robber.- Call 10111 immediately. Do not call a supervisor, manager or owner first. Give the information to police as soon as possible.She advised that business should keep their outside gates and office gates closed and locked if possible. Smith noted that during patrols, officers often see businesses that keep their main gates open. She says this make you an easier target for crime, and can add to an increase of crime in the area.