Crime shocker: Bank robberies almost doubled - and criminals now plan hits for specific days

Business Insider SA
Crime Scene
  • According to figures from SA banks, bank robberies jumped by almost 90% last year.
  • Many branches were targeted just after cash deliveries for social grant payments took plance.
  • But there was a sizeable fall in cash-in-transit robberies.
  • For more articles, go to

Last year, bank robberies increased by 86% to 195 – and branches were often targeted soon after cash deliveries for social grant payments took pace, says the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) in a new report.

Gauteng still accounts for almost a quarter of bank robberies – but Limpopo and the Western Cape saw the biggest increases in bank robberies, which in Limpopo climbed from 2 to 14, and in the Western Cape from 4 to 22 - a 450% jump.

Source: Sabric

There was a small 2% fall in “associated robberies” – where a bank client is violently robbed of cash on their way to, or from, a bank branch or ATM.

Cash-in-transit robberies also fell – by 16% - with only KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State seeing an increase in these attacks.  This was due to a campaign launched in May 2018 by security firms and the police to curb these attacks, says Sabric. Still, more than 240 of these attacks took place in 2019.

While attacks on ATMs fell by 9% last year, attacks using explosives increased by 8%.

“Most (60%) of these attacks were unsuccessful due to dye stain technology as well as prompt responses from ATM monitoring teams,” says Sabric.

There was a 20% increase in digital banking fraud cases. Almost 28,000 incidents were reported – and a loss of R284 million was suffered.

But while there has been a big increase in app transactions in South Africa, fraud losses on banking apps increased by only 1%.

Criminals use manipulative “social engineering tactics” to get bank customers to inadvertently share their personal and confidential information, allowing them access to transact on customer accounts without authority,” says Sabric CEO Nischal Mewalall. “However, there have been no reports from our banks where a banking app was compromised to commit fraud.”

Credit card and debit card fraud increased by 21% - and two-thirds of all fraud on SA issued credit cards took place in a foreign country, says Sabric. South African ecommerce retailers largely comply with 3D Secure - whereas merchants abroad don’t use 3D Secure.

The leading contributor to gross card fraud losses has remained card not present fraud (CNP), for example, when your card number is used fraudulently by someone else to make a purchase at a garage while the physical card is in your possession.

Mewalall says that new scams have appeared with the advent of Covid-19.

“Sabric has already seen an increase in new scams involving personal protective equipment, fake vaccines as well as other phishing scams.”

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