Beware these crime trends over December, says CEO of South Africa’s biggest security firm


With many South Africans expected to travel and go on holiday over December, security companies are expecting an uptick in certain types of crimes, including house break-ins, says Wahl Bartmann, chief executive of Fidelity Services Group.

Speaking to Michael Avery on BusinessTalk, Bartmann said the criminals don’t go on holiday, so there is an increased opportunity to target unoccupied houses over this period.

He added that courier companies are likely to be increasingly targeted as South Africans shop online ahead of the Christmas and December holiday season. He said that shopping centres across the country are also likely to see an increase in incidents for similar reasons, especially over Black Friday.

“It is total preparedness from criminals – from cash in transits to following you back home in your car – so definitely remain aware and check.

“If you go on leave, check your alarm and make sure it’s working to ensure the company can respond immediately. Be proactive when walking around in stores and vigilant about it.”

Bartmann said that CCTVs and electric fencing are still effective deterrents against criminals. Still, they need to be used proactively and monitored offsite, or there must be an alarm that triggers when a system is bypassed.

He said that load shedding had created additional issues, while people working from home due to the Covid-19 lockdown pandemic means fewer alarms are being set during the day.

“Criminals are well prepared. You get the ones that will (take advantage of) a quick opportunity, but there are syndicates that operate. They are well planned, and they will take advantage of these opportunities.”

Bartmann said that while the Covid-19 pandemic and job losses have likely led to increased crime, he noted that South Africa’s criminal syndicates are huge, “and if people are successful they will keep on doing it”.

He pointed to failures in prosecutions and the justice system where criminals are often arrested, let out on bail, and then immediately commit a break-in or a cash-in-transit heist.

“The syndicates specialise in certain areas, they are well prepared, and they will go the extra mile to ensure they are successful.”

Read: Hijackings on the rise in South Africa – here are the hotspot areas


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