Cops appeal for info on latest Gauteng mall robbery

Eight Gauteng malls have been targeted in 22 days.

Eight men held up staff members at the Timberland store at the World Wear Shopping Centre, marking the fifth mall robbery in the province just this week. Picture: Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng police are appealing to witnesses to come forward with any information to help track down the gang of robbers who targeted a shopping centre on the West Rand this morning.

The group held up staff members at the Timberland store at the World Wear Shopping Centre, marking the fifth mall robbery in the province just this week.

Eight Gauteng malls have been targeted in 22 days.

Police are searching for the eight gunmen who escaped in a Toyota double cab bakkie.

The police's Lungelo Dlamini says, "They removed the clothing and fled the scene in a double cab bakkie."

He says shots were fired but nobody was injured.

In a separate incident, Gauteng police have launched a manhunt for three men who robbed a Telkom store in the Eastgate Shopping Centre yesterday.

They say the men entered the store late on Wednesday afternoon and demanded cellphones from staff valued at an undisclosed amount of money before fleeing.

On Tuesday, four men reportedly robbed a Telkom store at the Kolonnade Shopping Centre in Pretoria East of cellphones with a resale value of R200,000.

There have been no arrests in any of the cases.

ROBBERS OPTING FOR SOFT TARGETS

The spate of robberies at malls targeting high-end electronic devices is being seen as a case of criminals opting for soft targets with the same rewards as cash.

Tech expert Arthur Goldstuck said with the right technology, stolen devices are easily unlocked and sold on the black market or in neighbouring countries.

"The criminals are seeing the tech stores as alternatives to banks now that the security at banks is at a higher level. They need products that can easily be turned into cash."

Meanwhile, the Institute for Security Studies has warned that the rise in violent business robberies, particularly at shopping malls, is a symptom of a troubled police Crime Intelligence Unit.

The institute's Johan Burger said business robberies have been on the rise for the last three years.