Johan Burger from the ISS says its a definite that criminals assess, plan and execute around every aspect. Picture: Karen Sandison
Johan Burger from the ISS says its a definite that criminals assess, plan and execute around every aspect. Picture: Karen Sandison

Eskom power cuts to aid festive criminals plan to hit malls, small businesses

By Tracy-Lynn Ruiters Time of article published Nov 21, 2021

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As the festive season gets on its merry way, crime experts warn that so too are criminals gearing up to carry out their plans to hit malls and small businesses. Eskom’s power cuts play into to the hands of smooth criminals.

Johan Burger, a consultant in the Crime and Justice Programme at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), said it was also the time of the year when crime syndicates swoop on businesses and people using new technologies to beat ever-more sophisticated defence.

He also warned that loadshedding was also seen as another opportunity for criminals.

“When I look at something like loadshedding and apply it to the opportunistic nature of criminals, I’d say loadshedding created new opportunities for them. They are creative, innovative, and for this reason add loadshedding to their plans.”

Burger used loadshedding apps as an example.

“Criminals will find the information quite easily, and they will find it on apps that tells you when loadshedding will occur and where.

“They do observation, risk assessment, and target information.

“They then add the loadshedding to the schedule... with loadshedding a number of things happen, it creates darkness, which criminals thrive in.”

Johan Burger from the ISS says its a definite that criminals assess, plan and execute around every aspect. Picture: Karen Sandison

He said the interruption of security systems also play a part in these criminal plans.

“Especially in shopping malls; you can literally see a lower level of power provision, and all of those things are things criminals will look at and include in their plan in process. And with festive season around the corner, I am sure we will once again see an increase in robberies.

“This is because they plan around this. They know during the festive time, everyone is more relaxed, people go away for long periods of time and roads are also full.

“So they will target during peak hour, and with loadshedding, they know response time will be slower.

“Criminals will sit and plan for this; they take alot of consideration when planning.”

This week, George police investigated a case of armed robbery where a substantial amount of cash was taken and an employee was shot and wounded in his leg.

Burger said that criminals don't sit back and wait, adding that they have prying eyes and will go to the furthest extent if necessary.

“I always warn people to take precaution. Be alert its not only for the police to see to our safety, but also for us to be aware of our surroundings.

“Of course police have their usual festive season operations – where they will have a higher presence in shopping malls, and give preference to hotspots areas. But when going to a mall, also be alert, especially in jewellery shops, IT equipment stores, cellphone shops and so on.

“Criminals use congestion, because they can mingle and with (Covid) masks, it also benefits criminals more than just in a health sense, but also in their activity.

Criminals see loadshedding as a opportunity. Picture: Karen Sandison

“Your best chance of avoiding serious injury is to acknowledge that the criminal is in control. Research shows that if you accept the situation, your chance of surviving unharmed is extremely high.

“Basically you still have a chance when they are outside, but once inside it's their game.”

Meanwhile, both the City of Cape Town and police have launched their festive season readiness campaign.

Police Minister Bheki Cele launched the Western Cape’s safer season at the same time as the country in blue initiative last month.

Both of these campaigns aim to increase visibility on the streets of the Western Cape, in malls, tourist destinations and especially hot spot areas.

As was the case during the previous festive season, the plan also seeks to manage the additional risks brought about by the continued threat of Covid-19.

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