Thieves hit an East London retail store three times in less than two weeks this month alone, setting the business back by more than R25 000.
Choice Clothing store in Union Street, which sells mostly women’s clothing, has lost cash from its safe and till after robbers targeted the shop, hitting it on June 6, 12 and 16.
In October last year the shop opened a case of armed robbery after R13605.02 worth of business takings were stolen from its safe.
The spate of robberies has forced management to beef up its security by hiring a security guard.
The business robberies have left staff traumatised and contemplating quitting.
The store was robbed at gunpoint on June 6 by four men who had to flee empty handed as the money had already been taken to the bank.
CCTV footage seen by the Daily Dispatch of the June 12 robbery shows two unknown armed men walking into the store casually at 9am before making off with R9200 from the the previous day’s business takings and R1500 from the till points.
In the footage unsuspecting customers could be seen shopping normally.
A staff member, who asked not to be named for safety reasons, said the two suspects entered the shop and greeted the staff of four.
“They politely came to us – they know our faces by the look of things.
“They flashed guns slowly and said ‘we [are] just here for the money so please don’t try anything stupid’,” she recalled.
“We complied. One of them took position and stood guard on the door and instructed the other one to take me to the back of the store to the safe.”
The staff member said she was certain the assailants knew them because they knew she was the one with keys to the safe.
Another crew of unknown assailants entered the store on Youth Day and fled with R12874 from the back safe and R500 from the till.
Two armed men could be seen on the CCTV footage entering the shop at 9.20am on a busy Friday morning.
The shop staff could be seen tidying up the shop, getting ready for the public holiday shopping.
One of the assailants looked very similar to a suspect who robbed the shop on June 12.
Again the friendly looking pair could be seen striking a relaxed conversation with staff. The staffer explained to the Dispatch that the two asked “where is the money kept this time?”
“Before I could answer, one of them again instructed the other one to grab me and ask me to show him the safe.”
Yesterday when the Dispatch visited the shop, the staff members were still visibly shaken by the latest robbery on Youth Day.
According to the centre manager Garth Young, they had experienced four robberies in the past eight months, with three in June alone.
Police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Hazel Mqala confirmed that Choice Clothing had opened three business robbery cases with the Fleet Street Police.
“The suspects are still at large but we are following strong leads. The investigation is at advanced stages,” she said.
By Malibongwe Dayimani – DispatchLIVE