NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on Septemper 9, 2014.
On Tuesday morning Gauteng police made their first arrests in connection to a recent spate of mall robberies in the province.
Five men aged between 24 and 44 years of age were nabbed in a police raid in Brixton and Doornfontien at 4am this morning, . The five are suspected to be involved in at least two mall robberies in the province.
Provincial commissioner of police, Lesetja Mothiba told a media briefing in Parktown that so far 11 mall robberies have rocked Gauteng.
On 22 August, a gang of robbers struck an iStore at Centurion Mall, escaping with over R1 million worth of goods. A week before a group of men robbed an iStore at Cresta shopping mall , taking an undisclosed number of cellphones and iPads. As they fled the scene they started shooting randomly, injuring an elderly man in the parking lot.
That same week a group of men robbed an iStore at Glen Shopping Mall in Glenvista, Johannesburg, shooting and injuring a security guard before they fled the scene.
A man was killed last week at Black Chain Shopping Centre in Soweto when five suspects stole a cash box.
On Monday evening, a cellphone store at the Glen shopping centre in Ormonde, Johannesburg, was robbed with the suspects fleeing with cellphones.
Mothiba said lax mall security made the robberies easier for criminals, “some mall security is very relaxed. Some have CCTV camera’s that aren’t working or are of poor quality”.
Police are now offering a reward of R200 000 for people with information on those involved in mall robberies.
General Tebello Mosikili, deputy provincial commissioner for detective services. She revealed that police spend between R1 million and R1,5 million on rewards annually.
Police plan to work hand in hand with mall security, management and private security companies in the coming weeks to access various malls’ security.
Mothiba said police have identified at least 12 malls that they say are “high risk”. There will be increased visibility at these malls but he did not want to scare people by identifying them.