Canal Walk Shopping Centre has been the target of two armed robberies in as many weeks.
In the latest incident, the Cellucity cellphone store was targetted by three armed men who entered the shop on Wednesday October 2, at about 7.40pm.
According to Milnerton SAPS spokeswoman Captain Nopaya Madyibi, the robbers threatened the store’s staff and grabbed 12 demo cellphones from the display and left the shop.
“A case of business robbery was registered at Milnerton police station. No arrests have been made and the case is still under the investigation,” said Captain Madyibi.
On Sunday September 22, five armed men robbed a computer shop in the same shopping centre and were later caught, following a high-speed chase that ended in Parow (“Thieves pounce on computer store in Canal Walk,” Tabletalk, September 25).
Several cellphone shops were robbed earlier this year at the Paddocks Shopping Centre, in Milnerton.
In March, Cellucity was hit by four armed robbers who fled in a grey BMW.
In June, an alarm thwarted four armed men who tried to break into the MTN store’s safe. The robbers took three customers’ phones.
In July, Cellucity was again the target, when six armed men took two cellphones and seven replica phones (“Robbers pounce on centre,” Tabletalk, July 10).
Milnerton Crime Watch patrol co-ordinator Craig Pedersen said business robberies tended to increase from early October through to late December.
“We advise that people keep their cellphones and wallets securely on their person as pickpockets come out of the woodwork the closer we get to Christmas. Business owners are advised not to make it well known in their businesses that they are drawing cash wages as we head to builders’ shutdown etc,” he said.
Mr Pedersen advised businesses to vary their routines when working with cash.
Canal Walk Shopping Centre CEO Gavin Wood said there had been no injuries in the latest robbery. The mall was cooperating with the police investigation.
“We will continue to engage with our tenants and all law enforcement agencies to ensure that all security measures are adequate as the safety of our customers and tenants remain a high priority,” said Mr Wood.
Cellucity owner, Sean Joffe said that a mall security guard identified all three criminals sitting outside the store on a bench but did not act on this information.
“It was absolutely preventable and I am sure the mall will rectify the failure as it is very important that consumers feel absolutely safe to shop in a mall.
“It should be mentioned that all live demo Samsung phones on our displays work on wifi only and do not take sim cards so really there is absolutely no point stealing them as they can never work on any mobile network,” he said.
Mr Joffe said that the way to combat phone theft was through technology where security software was embedded by the manufacturers on all operating systems during the production phase.
“It is high time our government and ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) embraced technology and took intelligent steps by insisting that all phones sold in South Africa have the ability to be bricked remotely and globally. This will eliminate an entire area of crime in South Africa,” he said.
Mr Joffe said that looking at the bigger picture, crimes linked to the theft of mobile phones at retailers or from the public is a major problem in South Africa and many other countries.
“Take the recent death on Clifton beach of a UCT student for his cellphone.
“Many people no longer wear watches or carry cash so the only item of value worth stealing is a mobile phone,” he said.