South Africa has recorded at list 98 heists so far this year.

Robbers, armed to the teeth yesterday stole a large amount of money and a firearm in Kempton Park, on the East Rand. The amount the made away with is yet to be disclosed.

Last year, there were 74 heists on cash-in-transit vehicles, according to the SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric).

The cash-in-transit gangs scored an estimated R45-million between January and yesterday, much more than in the corresponding period last year, Sabric said.

Sabric CEO Kalyani Pillay said the criminals were increasingly using explosives in attacks.

“The blowing up of cash-in-transit vehicles has become a major problem.

“What alarms us particularly is the level of violence in the heists. Robbers now appear to be deliberately extreme in their violence.”

Seven guards have been killed and 16 injured this year. No robbers have been injured or killed, and very few have been arrested.

Mpumalanga and Limpopo are the worst-hit provinces.

The police met representatives of the banking and cash-in-transit industries in April to find ways of countering the onslaught.

There is great concern about the ease with which robbers obtain military and espionage equipment and technology.

The equipment includes specialised signal-jamming devices, radio channel, computer and vehicle monitoring technology and computer-hacking software.

Armed with these resources, robbers can track cash-in-transit vehicles, jam the guards’ communication systems, interfere with vehicle CCTV monitoring equipment, render police radio systems useless and block cellphone coverage during attacks.

A police source said those behind the heists were increasingly becoming involved in bank and casino robberies.

 

Acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said police management met recently to plan a fight-back strategy.

“We have analysed heists and identified 20 policing clusters in which these and other violent crimes are increasing.”

Danny Myburg of Cyanre, the Computer Forensic Lab, said the acquisition of the military equipment robbers used was strictly regulated internationally.

“You could get this equipment only on the black market, [sourced] from former eastern European Soviet bloc countries.”

He said many of the devices were large and had to be built into vehicles.

Unisa criminologist Rudolph Zinn said research showed that the police’s inability to gather adequate crime intelligence contributed to the increase in heists.