ATMs, shops lost N$6.2 million to robbers this year

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Maria Amakali

Windhoek-Robberies in Namibia seem to be on the rise with banks, ATMs, shops and high street businesses losing close to N$6.2 million this year alone. According New Era’s statistical analysis of the daily police reports of 2017, robbers managed to get away with some N$6,222,379 over the past year.

Most of the crimes occur when victims have just withdrawn large sums of money, or when they are on their way to deposit money; and victims are often ambushed by criminals with guns or knives.

Notable incidents include the recent robbery at Nampost in Katutura, Windhoek on Tuesday evening where an employee, a civilian and security guard on duty were held at gunpoint at knock-off time. The robbers managed to get away with N$393,667,45 in cash.

Meanwhile, in September robbers struck at Rehoboth’s Bank Windhoek branch, cracked the safe open and reportedly stole N$1,3 million.

At the beginning of the year, a 53-year-old Chinese national from Ondangwa lost N$1,8 million in cash due to a syndicate of thieves.

The 53-year-old was allegedly informed to go withdraw his money from the bank as his account was closed, only to be robbed shortly after.

“These are organised crimes; criminals first do their homework, they look for specific details before they embark on such heinous activities,” explained Namibian police’s Deputy Commissioner Silvanus Nghishidimbwa. He said it is not easy to predict when or where these incidents will occur, but it is important that the public is always alert.

In one case, an Oshakati business person lost N$1 million after his identity was stolen by a suspect in Swakopmund, who managed to withdraw up to N$4 million from his personal bank account.

“It is never safe to have huge sums of money at home, in your car or even at your work place. People who do so become targets to thieves,” Nghishidimbwa added.

Another incident also saw a First National Bank (FNB) ATM cut open by use of a blow torch at the old power station in the Southern Industrial area of Windhoek where the thieves got away with N$500,000 in cash. Earlier this year, a gang of thieves also broke into a Rehoboth Nedbank ller ATM and stole N$240,930.

The courts are currently dealing with a case of robbery with aggravating circumstances after six men held up and robbed Puma Service station employees at gunpoint earlier this year. The group managed to flee with N$700,000 in cash before they were tracked down.

“Criminals are not lax, they are seeking for any opportunity to commit whatsoever crime. Therefore, the public must be alert at all times,” Nghishidimbwa reiterated.

Nampol has put measures in place for crime prevention and awareness to ensure such incidents do not occur and that criminals do not escape the law, the deputy commissioner said.

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