The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) says there was a 25% increase in incidents of robberies from jewellery stores in the first 11 days of August compared with the period between June-July this year. In July alone, however, there were nine incidents compared with 12 in the same comparative period in 2019.

Abraham Nelson, Executive: Consumer Goods Crime Risk Initiative (CGCRI), says during the lockdown period, Jewellery stores only started trading from the 1st of June 2020. Comparing statistics for June and July 2020 versus between 1 and 11 August 2020, there has been a 25% increase in incidents, he says. However, a three-year analysis shows that there has been an overall decrease in incidences of robberies at jewellery stores. There were 124 incidents, 2017, 85 incidents in 2018 and 78 incidents in 2019.

Nelson says among other factors contributing to the incidences of robberies were that jewellery stores were seen as soft targets with high value goods, the wearing masks due to COVID-19 and head coverings which makes it difficult to identify possible suspects, and generally this time of the year, there is an increase in the number of crime incidents as the country heads towards the festive season.

“The concern currently is the brazen manner in which these robberies are committed by large heavily armed groups and the increased use of violence. Currently, we see Gauteng and the Western Cape as being the most targeted provinces. These incidents not only pose a threat to the retailers and their staff but also consumers within the shopping centres who could get caught in the crossfire,” he says.

He says CGCRI has established and is maintaining a good working relationship with law enforcement and facilitates co-operation between retailers and shopping centres to mitigate these threats. CGCRI in conjunction with relevant stakeholders has also drafted safety tips for retailers and shopping centres which are being gradually implemented.

“The CGCRI also facilitated the sharing of best practices. Jewellery retailers also utilise various security measures, such as the use of smoke clouds, security gates, security officers and CCTV,” Nelson says.

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