Parow residents fear visiting their local shopping centre following a spate of robberies there, which have led police to advise shoppers to stay in groups.
In recent months, criminals have targeted shoppers, including several elderly people, outside Parow Centre.
Parow police say they have increased their presence near the mall to combat crime in the area, and say they have seen a drop in car theft and common robberies.
Parow police spokesman Lieutenant Kevin Williams, however, said often the criminals who rob outside the mall are opportunistic.
He said the main items stolen from victims are cellphones.
Lieutenant Williams said there have been no injuries reported related to these incidents.
Tazkia Simon, 36, from Parow North, said after hearing about robberies at the mall, she no longer takes her children there and now only visits it briefly to get what she needs.
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Another shopper, Peter Adams, 48, worries about his safety because he visits the centre daily to buy bread and milk.
“People work so hard, so what gives these people the right to take what’s not theirs?” asked Mr Adams.
Pensioner Elizabeth Petersen, 65, catches a taxi to and from the mall when she does her shopping. She has heard of many robberies at the centre, and is scared of being seen as a soft target because of her age.
“But, what can I do? I have to get my things from the mall, because it is safer inside. I can’t go and walk outside to get what I need.
“We are pensioners and we don’t have a lot of money. But criminals think it’s okay to take our stuff, which they didn’t even work for.”
Shireen Hoosain, 32, often takes her two children to the mall to grab a bite to eat, but no more.
“Sometimes you’re just safer at home,” she said.
Lieutenant Williams said car thefts and robberies were among some of the common crimes being committed at the centre.
He urged shoppers to be aware of their surroundings and where they parked and to always walk in groups when walking outside of the mall.
He said it is imperative for the community to get involved with the local neighbourhood watch, and to always report any suspicious people or activities.
Pieter de Jager, the portfolio manager at Parow Centre, said the safety and security of the mall’s customers and tenants are of prime importance, and said the malls security plan has been designed in close collaboration with the police crime intelligence.
“Our CCTV system covers the entire property and is monitored 24/7 by senior security operators. In addition we have on-going patrols assisted by under-cover security guards,” said Mr De Jager.
He said there was recently a case of hijacking in the parking area, but said that through the vigilance of all concerned, the culprits were apprehended the same day.
“It is everybody’s responsibility to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities to centre management,” said Mr De Jager.
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