Heist gangs hit cash-in-transit vehicles

Cash-in-transit heist gangs hit at least six vans on Monday—three of them from Fidelity Cash Management Services (FCMS) and three from Coin Security.

Although shots—including assault-rifle fire—went off in all but one of the attacks, only one security guard was wounded. The gangs escaped with cash in three incidents and four robbers were arrested.

Fidelity could confirm only three attacks in the past four days, which it described as “successfully defended”.

“FCMS does not believe that these incidents are related because of the distances between the attack sites and the timing involved,” said spokesperson Wendy van Haght.

On Monday morning, four armed men struck a Fidelity van while guards were collecting cash from a petrol station near Pietermaritzburg. The gang pulled up in a blue Toyota at the BP Ridge Oasis petrol station on the N3 at Camperdown, 35km south of Pietermaritzburg, said police Inspector Joey Jeevan.

As two of the robbers walked towards the van, one of them fired a shot into the ground.
They took a money box, got back into the car and drove off northbound on the N3, Jeevan said.

Another gang—of eight to 10 men thought to be armed with assault rifles—brought Johannesburg traffic to a standstill when it attacked a Fidelity van on the M2 East, also on Monday morning. A BMW sedan rammed into the back of the van on the freeway near the Village Road offramp, Selby, between 9am and 9.15am, said Captain Schalk Bornman.

The driver of the van lost control of the vehicle and it flipped on to its side next to the highway, he said. The rest of the gang then arrived in a white Volkswagen Polo and a white Nissan bakkie. Three or four shots were fired, but no one was injured. Police later found spent cartridges from an assault rifle on the scene, but Bornman could not say exactly which weapon might have been used.

The robbers tried unsuccessfully to open the van and take the money inside. They fled empty-handed in the Polo and the bakkie, leaving the BMW behind. Police later recovered the vehicles on Village Road near the corner of Booysens Road. An ammunition magazine for a 9mm pistol was discovered inside the bakkie.

The BMW was found to have been stolen in Parys, in the Free State, last week. The other two vehicles had also been reported stolen. The gang was still at large.

Bornman said the three guards inside the van sustained only minor injuries and were treated on the scene by paramedics. The Johannesburg serious and violent crimes unit was investigating.

In Limpopo, three gunmen opened fire on a Fidelity van in Seotlong-Ga-Nkoana in an attempt to bring it to a halt, said police spokesperson Superintendent Patty Khumalo. Guard Frans Malobela (38) drove straight to the Apel police station, she said. The robbers disappeared.

Four gunmen were arrested after a heist involving a Coin Security van in Kopanong on Monday morning, said Vaal Rand police spokesperson Captain William Mcera. They struck at 9am, opening fire on the van after it had collected money from the Kopanong hospital in Vereeniging. The robbers made off in a Toyota Corolla with one money container and two sealed bags.

Police chased them from Klip River up to the Zonke Izizwe informal settlement where there was a shootout in which the driver of the getaway car lost control of the vehicle and it overturned.

All four robbers were arrested. Two of them were wounded and taken to the Sebokeng hospital. The stolen money was recovered and four firearms—a .38 revolver and three 9mm pistols—seized.

A 12-man gang also held up a Coin Security cash-in-transit van in Durban on Monday morning. A Toyota Camry rammed the van on to its side, said Captain Shane Smith, of the serious and violent crimes unit.

The robbers forced open a side door, took eight money boxes containing about R300 000 and fled in a bakkie and a BMW. Smith said the van had collected cash from a number of businesses in the Briardene industrial area before the heist. Eyewitnesses saw a robber brandishing a high-calibre rifle, but no shots were fired.

The driver of the van sustained broken ribs and another guard minor injuries, said Netcare 911 spokesperson Chris Botha. Both were taken to the Umhlanga hospital.

On Monday afternoon, a cash-in-transit security guard was wounded in the leg in a heist in Booysens, Johannesburg, said Bornman.

A gang of between 10 and 12 robbers attacked a Coin Security van on the corner of Austin and Landor roads in Tulisa Park, at 2.30pm. A grey BMW sedan smashed into the front of the van as it left the Steeledale shopping centre. The rest of the gang arrived at the scene in a silver Toyota Cressida, a white BMW and a blue bakkie. They opened fire on the van, wounding the guard before robbing him and a colleague of their firearms.

The robbers took an undisclosed amount of money and fled in the Cressida and the bakkie, leaving the BMW behind. It was not yet known if the vehicle was stolen, as it had false registration plates, said Bornman.

The wounded guard was taken to a local hospital for medical treatment. All the robbers were still at large, he said.

On Sunday, robbers tried, but failed, to steal cash from a Coin Security van collecting money at a petrol station near the Carousel, in Temba, North West, said police spokesperson Constable Bontle Diphoko.

They fired 40 rounds of ammunition in the attack, but no one was injured, she said. The guards were parked at the petrol station when two BMW sedans drove up to the vehicle and a Mercedes-Benz parked in front of it. The van driver rammed the Mercedes-Benz out of the way and drove to the Carousel hotel for help.—Sapa

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