Smoke alarms forced robbers to flee - Cash Crusaders

2017-07-06 17:07
The Cash Crusaders in Cape Town that has been robbed. (James de Villiers, News24)

The Cash Crusaders in Cape Town that has been robbed. (James de Villiers, News24)

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Cape Town - Smoke alarms inside the Cash Crusaders store in the Cape Town CBD are believed to have forced the suspects during an armed robbery to flee the scene, said company spokesperson Alaine Rossouw.

She said no one was held hostage during Wednesday's ordeal, which closed several roads in the city centre.

Rossouw told News24 that police were unaware that the store is fitted with smoke alarms, which are believed to have forced the suspects to flee the scene.

"When the perpetrators entered [the store], one had a gun…  they ordered the cashier to go to the back to unlock the safe," Rossouw said.

"When the manager was alerted, he pressed the panic button and smoke deployed. It makes a hell of a lot of smoke… thick smoke fills the entire store - it's so thick that you can't see your hand in front of you.

"When police arrived minutes later, they couldn't see inside the store so they didn't know what was going on. They have their own procedure, and that is why they declared the area a hostage situation. We didn't make that call."

READ: Special task force called in for Cash Crusaders robbery in Cape Town

'Staff arrested'

Rossouw said that staff had locked themselves in a storeroom for safety as this was protocol for similar situations.

A specialised police task force also arrived on the scene and a canine unit was deployed.

Police maintained a 200m parameter, before the specialised unit entered the building and cleared the zone.

Witnesses had told News24 that arrests were made shortly after employees left the building, but Rossouw said the situation was confusing.

"In that moment everybody is a suspect; everyone apprehended… Unfortunately, some of our staff were arrested to the cheers of the crowd, which added to the trauma experienced by our employees."

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Western Cape police said two suspects had entered the store and fled with one cellphone.

Rossouw, however, said that three suspects had been involved in the robbery, and that one iPad was taken.

It is unclear how the suspects managed to take the iPad, which was locked inside a glass cabinet. The cabinet was not broken.

"We don't know how they got the iPad. An employee might have been showing it to a client [when the robbers took it] - we just don't know," Rossouw said.

Responding to questions from News24 on Thursday, Western Cape police said no additional information could be given at this stage and investigations are ongoing.

The store was open again on Thursday morning, but employees told News24 that all staff present during the robbery were given leave.

Rossouw said all employees involved would receive trauma counselling.

Read more on:    cash crusaders  |  cape town  |  crime

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