Robbers target mall

The MTN cellphone store at Paddocks shopping centre was targeted by criminals on Saturday.

A cellphone shop at a Milnerton shopping centre was robbed over the weekend – the second such incident in less than three months and residents and shoppers are worried about a spike in crime.

Residents said gunmen held up MTN’s cellphone shop at Paddocks shopping centre for two minutes on Saturday June 8.

This is not the first time this year that brazen attacks like this have occurred. At the end of March this year, four armed men robbed the Vodacom Cellucity store in Paddocks where they took an undisclosed amount of goods and escaped in a grey BMW.

Milnerton police confirmed that four men are being sought after the robbery at the store around 2.30pm on Saturday.

“Four male suspects entered the store and threatened the sales staff, forcing one to open a safe containing cellphones.

“In the process, an alarm was activated and the suspects fled the scene with three cellphones which they took from customers who were in the store,” said station commander Brigadier Marius Stander.

“Unfortunately, I am not in a position to divulge the leads we are currently following up for fear of jeopardising the investigation. Similarly, I am also not at liberty to divulge statistics of crime prior to their formal release in line with SAPS policy,” he told Tabletalk.

Sunset Beach resident, Marc van Agthoven said he had been living in the area for six years and often went to the mall. He said over the years he had heard a few stories about people becoming victims of crime in the area and quite a few of these incidents have occurred recently.

“I’m aware of a few armed robberies involving the MTN store (including the most recent one) and another cellphone shop.

“I’ve heard of a staff member at a restaurant getting their car stolen from the parking lot and there has been an attempted hijacking. There are a few more but I don’t want to alarm or cause fear to anyone,” he said.

Megan Channing from Royal Ascot who is a regular shopper at Paddocks shopping centre urged management to keep an eye on criminal activity.

“I love going to the centre because it’s quiet and pretty convenient for me. But we know there are all these bad elements trying to bring down our area. SAPS need to fight this and the centre needs to beef up on its security,” she said.

Patrol co-ordinator for Milnerton Crime Watch, Craig Pedersen, said his research showed him that this type of crime would be reduced if cellular companies embraced other means of delivering cellular devices to their clients rather than risking them being stored on site.

“Cellular phones do have a good black-market value outside of South Africa where many of them are sent after being stolen.

“It’s a question of time before the retail cellular industry closes the opportunity to crimes like this by moving stock off-site and using direct delivery to the client rather than in-store access,” he said.

Tabletalk asked shopping centre management for comment on the incident and what measures they were implementing to improve security in the mall. Paddocks centre management replied in an email: “Safety and security is of most importance to us.

“No one was injured during the incident and the matter is still under investigation, therefore we cannot comment at the present time.”

Tabletalk also asked MTN for comment multiple times but did not receive a response from them by the time this edition went to print.