What to do in a mall robbery

Theunis Kotze, ADT general manager, Inland Region, says people who are witnesses of, or victims of a mall robbery, should cooperate with robbers and try at all times to stay calm.

It is wise for customers to always be on the lookout for any suspicious activities and to be aware of the people around them.

If you do find yourself caught up in a mall robbery, Kotze provides the following advice:

If you are in the store that is being robbed:

  • Co-operate with robbers for your own safety. Listen to and follow their instructions closely.
  • Try to keep as calm as possible. Everyone reacts in a different way, but try to breathe deeply until help arrives.
  • Do not use your cellphone while the robbery is in progress, this could agitate the assailants.
  • Immediately try to find a sheltered spot and keep low on the ground.
  • Take note of the assailants to pass on information to the authorities. For example, what they were wearing, any distinctive clothes, markings, jewellery, height and weight.
  • Ensure your children are kept close to you at all times. Do not let children wander off while you are shopping.
  • Do not shop with large amounts of cash or valuables.

If you are not in the store being robbed:

  • Speak with the store personnel to firstly close the roller shutter doors – this is standard operating procedure in many malls – and move to the back of the store, out of sight.
  • Try to find a store closest to you and secure yourself as described above.
  • Do not try to exit via the standard entry and exit points, as these are the same points the robbers will be using. Many malls now have standard operating procedures to lock down the mall.

Kotze says crime is becoming more sophisticated, with inside information playing an increasingly prominent role.

“Whether you were in the store being robbed, or just witnessed the incident in the mall, you should seek counselling, regardless of how you might feel. It often takes some time to experience and deal with the post-traumatic stress following such robberies,” concluded Kotze.

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