Mall robberies, cash-in-transit heists and other attacks tend to increase towards the end of the year over the festive holidays and when bonuses are traditionally paid. So too, unfortunately, does your risk of being involved in such an attack.
Theunis Kotze, ADT GM for the inland region, says people who are witnesses of, or victims in a mall robbery, should cooperate with robbers and try at all times to stay calm.
It is wise for customers to always be on the lookout for any suspicious activities and be aware of the people around them. If you do find yourself caught in a mall robbery, Kotze provides the following advice:
If you are in the store that is being robbed:
- Cooperate with robbers for your own safety. Listen closely and follow their instructions.
- Try and keep as calm as possible. Everyone reacts in a different way but try and breathe deeply until help arrives.
- Do not use your cellphone while the robbery is in process as this could agitate the assailants.
- Immediately try and find a sheltered spot and keep low on the ground.
- Take note of the assailants to pass information on to the authorities (what they were wearing, any distinctive clothes, markings, jewellery etc). Also try and remember what they looked like (height, weight, etc).
- Ensure your children are kept close to you at all times. Do not let children wander off while you are shopping.
- Do not shop with large amounts of cash or valuables.
If you are not in the store being robbed:
- Speak with the store personnel to firstly close the roller shutter doors. This is also standard operating procedures in many malls and move to the back of the store, out of sight.
- Try and find a store closest to you and secure yourself, as described above.
- Do not try and exit via the standard entry and exit points as these are the same points the robbers will be using. Many malls now have standard operating procedures to lock down the mall.
Kotze says crime is becoming more sophisticated, with inside information playing an increasingly prominent role. “Whether you were in the store being robbed, or just witnessed the incident in the centre, you should seek counselling, regardless of how you might feel,” he says. “It often takes some time to experience and deal with the post-traumatic stress following such robberies.”