Communities cautioned to be safe

UPPER Highway residents are being urged to rethink their banking procedures after an increasing number of people are being robbed of cash immediately after withdrawing it.

Victims have been targeted outside banks – immediately after withdrawing the money, as well as followed from the banks or ATMS and accosted at their homes or business premises. In some cases the robbers, who are armed and operating in groups of two to four, already know where their victims live or work.

Enforce security’s community project manager Nikki Möhlmann says cases have occurred throughout the Greater Durban area and that stolen cash amounts have varied upwards of R10 000.

She says the most recent case where a man was accosted in the parking lot of a Brickfield Road business this week was not only “horrific” and “extremely sad”, but indicative of just how brazen the criminals are.

“We have seen this happening more and more over the past few weeks, and the robbers appear to have incredible intel. In one instance a banking customer was followed home from the bank, but the camera footage shows that the robbers only left the vicinity of the bank about a minute after he had driven off. So they knew exactly where he was going without even having to follow him.

“What is also scary is that they are all armed and very nervous, a combination which often leads to situations in which people are shot and wounded, or even killed.”

Möhlmann therefore advises people to be extremely vigilant when withdrawing money and to try as much as possible to not draw large amounts. She also implores business owners to pay staff wages via electronic methods, and not with cash, and this then eliminates the need for them to withdraw those large amounts in the first place.

“People need to also be extremely wary when driving from banks and ATMs. They need to be aware of who is driving behind them, and if they think they are being followed, to rather drive to the nearest police station instead of stopping at home or work.”

Enforce Security’s tips to avoid being a victim of cash robberies:

• Avoid withdrawing large amounts of cash, either from the ATM or from within banks

• Do not use ATMS in secluded areas or when it is dark

• Opt to pay accounts electronically via internet or telephone banking. This eliminates the need to carry large amounts of cash

• If you do need to withdraw or deposit large amounts of cash, and are doing so on a regular basis, alternate the days and times you do so, and if possible, even the bank branches you use

• Never tell people the day and time you will be depositing or withdrawing your money

• If depositing money, avoid carrying money bags or briefcases, and do not display your deposit receipt book. These items are dead giveaways that you are in possession of large amounts of cash, and alert criminals will not miss these signs

• If, as a businessman, you find yourself depositing increasingly large amounts, rather use the services of cash management companies. You will have to pay for their services but you eliminate the risks of being robbed – and potentially wounded or killed

• Always be aware of people around you and be alert when walking back to your vehicle or driving from the bank

• When withdrawing money from within the bank, avoid loudly stating the amount you wish to draw. Often criminals have spotters inside banking halls, posing as customers. They look out for people who are withdrawing large amounts and then alert their accomplices who are waiting outside. You can also opt to write down the amount that you wish to draw, and show it to the cashier. - Supplied

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