Robberies against small retailers typically increase as the festive season kicks off in December, warns Santam.
Small retailers most vulnerable
The 2011/12 national crime statistics by the South African Police Services (SAPS) revealed a 7.5% increase in the number of business robberies across the country. In these robbery cases reported, 35% of targets were spaza shops or tuckshops, followed by supermarkets (13%) and general dealers at 11.4 %.
“Retailers of this size tend to keep more stock, goods and high cash flow over the festive season which makes them easy targets for criminals,” says Lourens Joubert, head of commercial insurance at Santam.
“Spaza shops, supermarkets and shebeens, are also easier targets because they operate in areas with insufficient infrastructure, poor policing and have a lack of security measures in place to protect their businesses.”
Sensible safety steps
The insurer says businesses can take a few precautionary measures during the festive season to decrease the chances of falling victim to robberies:
- Beef up security: Business owners should make sure that security measures, such as security lights, CCTV monitoring and alarms are in place, and are clearly visible and activated on the premises.
Ensure that there is signage on the property informing potential criminals of the relevant security systems installed; also test these systems and equipment regularly to ensure that they are in working order.
For cost effective security measures, business owners can install burglar bars, erect a security fence or wall around the business, or hire a reputable security company or start a community night watch programme with other local businesses.
- Alarm bells: To ensure insurance cover for theft, a business alarm must be switched on and be in good working order. It is always advisable to check regularly that the system and its battery are always in perfect condition.
- Money matters: If your business has a cash register, remove all the money at night and leave the register open to deter break-ins. Always ensure that you bank as much of your cash as possible, and if you are going on holiday only keep the minimum change you would require when opening the business again.
If a staff member leaves the company and has access to the safe, it is advisable to change the combination when they leave. They must also return keys or access cards. We would advise that business owners change the alarm or access codes after a staff member leaves.
- Light it up: To make sure that customers feel secure and are protected at your place of business, ensure that entrances, parking areas and pathways to your business are well-lit at night.
- Keep it tidy: Business owners should ensure that plants and bushes on their premises are trimmed so that there is a clear view of potential hazards.
- Safety in numbers: Ensure that your business security strategy is understood by all staff and that they know what to do in case of an emergency. Also ensure that everyone has the correct emergency telephone numbers on hand as you might not always be on the premises to assist.