THE armed robbery case where a Beitbridge businessman lost R1,2 million and US$3 500 after gun totting men raided his house on Saturday morning highlights the dangers of keeping large sums of cash in homes.
The police are on record warning business people countrywide against keeping large sums of money in homes as the practice makes them targets to criminals.
Cases of robbers targeting homes of business people are on the rise lately and in some instances the cases have been fatal.
The armed robbers are also targeting cash-in-transit vehicles, money transfer agents and banks.
In Bulawayo, the robbers have gone as far as first cutting electric cables to plunge the city’s affluent suburbs into darkness before raiding homes of business people suspected to be keeping large sums of money.
Some lost money during the raids but strangely a few have been willing to share the details of the robberies or even report the cases to the police.
In the Beitbridge incident, national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said the robbery occurred at around 3am.
He said the suspects were armed with pistols and broke into the complainant’s house and threatened to shoot him and his family while demanding cash.
“We are investigating a robbery case which occurred in the Medium Density Suburb in Beitbridge on October 9 at around 3am. The complainant, who is a businessman, was asleep at his home with his family when four unidentified suspects broke into his home,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He said they threatened to shoot him and his family while demanding cash. They went on to search the house and took R1,2 million, US$3 500, two cellphones and four wrist watches, among other valuables.
Asst Comm Nyathi said investigations were underway and appealed to members of the public with information that could lead to the arrest of the suspects to contact any nearest police station.
He urged businesspeople to desist from keeping large sums of money at home.
Asst Comm Nyathi said police are concerned about the increase in cases of armed robberies targeting businesspeople.
“As police we continue to urge businesspeople to desist from keeping large sums of money in their houses. By keeping this money, they are putting themselves at risk of being attacked by robbers and in the process are risking their lives. As police we continue to record cases of armed robberies at homes, which means that people are not taking heed of our advice. If people have large sums of money, they must take it to the bank,” he said.
In an interview last month, Asst Comm Nyathi said investigating cases involving people who lose large sums of money during robberies at home was a challenge as most of the victims were reluctant to make police reports, raising a strong suspicion of illicit dealings.
“We also have a situation whereby individuals especially businesspeople are now keeping large sums of money in their houses and again information is leaking where you will find that criminals follow these people to their homes and attack them,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
“We want to urge businesspeople to step up their security. We have a situation where someone gets his or her money stolen and does not want to report hence in this regard, you can’t rule out the possibility of illicit activities, which the victims feel would expose them if the matter is reported to us.”
Asst Comm Nyathi said if a genuine crime has been committed, it has to be reported to the police.
“As police, we continue to conduct investigations and there is no way a person should block police from investigating a crime. We have said it before and continue to say it that people should bank money with financial institutions particularly now that Government has allowed the use of multi-currency system,” he said.
“We want to appeal to businesspeople to prioritise their safety and safeguard their investments. At the same time, they must ensure that their workers are vetted and their security companies step up security measures in terms of cash in transit.”
Members of the public, especially business people, are encouraged to deposit large sums of money in banks as keeping cash at home could lead to them being robbed or even killed by criminals.