'It's lucrative, it's easy and it's low risk' - Anneliese Burgess on the surge in cash-in-transit heists

2018-05-23 08:16

The lure of easy access to large amounts of cash is what is driving the surge in cash-in-transit heists, says the author of the book Heist, Anneliese Burgess. 

While it's not a "new thing", Burgess said the "virus is not slowing down because it has become easy to hit cash vans.

"We interviewed these criminals and they told us they continue to hit these vans because it's lucrative, it's easy and it's low risk. The chances of being arrested and being prosecuted are small and that is what's driving it."

Burgess said the heists that she wrote about in her book were carried out by the same successful gang in different provinces. 

According to Burgess, more than 110 heists have taken place so far in 2018. 

"This [is] double the number that took place in the period last year. We are definitely seeing a spike, but it is not as sudden as people think."

In 2006, there were a total of 460 heists - the highest recorded.  

Burgess said the number dropped significantly in 2007, after the police started working closely with Crime Intelligence. 

She said people were suddenly talking about cash-in-transit heists after seeing the dramatic video of the Boksburg heist.

"It has been cash-in-transit heist on the agenda and we are all talking about it. It has become very visible and people are suddenly worried because of the nature of that heist. It happened in a town where they had no regard for the vehicles and everyone around them."

Up to 3 heists a day

She said the country had about one to three heists a day and that last year, there were some days when there were up to 10 heists a day. 

Burgess said companies needed to make it more difficult for robbers to steal their money.

"In practical terms, it means more guards, more guns, more armoured vehicles or more escort vehicles. But the criminals will then respond, it is a virus." 

The other option was for Crime Intelligence and police to be "jacked up".

Investigations must be conducted and good prosecutions must be led, she added.

Once imprisoned, heist gang members usually claimed police assaulted them in holding cells, which was a tactic to try and stretch the matter in court for as long as possible. 

Over the past week, there were at least four cash-in-transit heists. 

In Boksburg, on the East Rand on May 17, a group blew up two G4S vans and made off with an undisclosed amount of money. Five men were later arrested, while the rest managed to escape.  

Three days later, police launched a manhunt for several suspects following a cash-in-transit heist at Southdale Mall, just outside the Johannesburg CBD. 

On Monday, a woman was shot in Soweto during a cash-in-transit heist at the Jabulani Mall. On the same day, in Polokwane, Limpopo, a group of more than 10 men pounced on a Fidelity van and made off with an undisclosed amount of money.

No arrests have been made in the Soweto, Southdale and Polokwane incidents. 

Hawks spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mulamu said they took the surge in heists in a very serious light. 

"It has become very alarming. We are trying to find out what kind of people we are dealing with."

She said the onus "lies with the companies to tighten up their security measures to decrease these heists".

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Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime  |  heists  |  cash heists

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