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Micro kidnappings to replace lucrative cash in transit heists says SCP Security

Community shattered by kidnapping of 85-year-old man from Johannesburg Botanical Gardens as Clive Maher says no word yet on how the case will be resolved.

A security expert has predicted that kidnappings will supersede cash-in-transit heists, as criminal elements look to find new ways to make quick money.

At the time of going to print, there was still no resolution in the case of an 85-year-old man who was kidnapped at the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens last Friday, February 9.

Eyewitnesses saw the man, who was walking his dogs in Emmarentia, being forced into a white panel van, and driven off.

Owner of SCP Security Clive Maher said, “I am in touch with the family and there is no good news yet, but no bad news either. “

“We are working very closely with the Parkview police and have one of our specialised task teams working the case to ensure his safe return. We are confident we will find him,” says Maher.

SCP Security uncovered the full registration details through the licence plate recognition (LPR) camera network and is monitoring the LPR network across Gauteng for any possible updates. The registration of the van has already been confirmed to have been cloned, so it is unlikely they will keep those plates on the vehicle.”

He says the motive for the kidnapping is unknown at this stage. “The victim is not known to be involved in any undesirable behaviour or business and is happily retired.”

Maher said, “This case has drawn much interest and there is more to this story, but police do not want to share more information until the case is resolved.”

Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Mavela Masondo said, “Police do not comment on kidnapping cases because that might put the lives of the victims in danger.”

Micro kidnappings

Owner of SCP Security Clive Maher.
Owner of SCP Security Clive Maher.

“Kidnappings are a difficult area to work in but is something that should be taken seriously by everyone in the country. I have been saying for months that kidnappings will supersede cash-in-transit crimes as the country begins to go cashless,” said Maher.

This he says is another way for criminals to make money and he has coined the phrase ‘micro-kidnappings’.

“That is what I am afraid of. People are kidnapped by well-organised syndicates who are closely monitoring people catching rides to the airport or out to dinner who are then intercepted and held captive for a micro sum of money.”

He says by using the word ‘micro’ he refers to relatively small amounts of cash like R50 – R100 000, which can be easily transferred on a banking app and only take five minutes to do.

“But there are also larger syndicates where kidnappers want millions of rands.

“It is a hard one to advise on what families should do if a loved one is kidnapped because no two families will be the same, and each set of circumstances will be different.

“You want to pay to bring your loved one home – but what happens if you do not have the funds? These syndicates are generally organised and go for high net-worth individuals, but some take a chance and kidnap people from families that do not have access to large sums of money.”

More often than not in these cases he says, there is an exchange of money he says but is usually nowhere near the original sum demanded. “It is a pure money-making scheme.

“However, every ransom that a family pays for a loved one, fuels the syndicated to become more organised and brazen. Some families have a policy that they will not pay kidnappers. They have no way of knowing if their loved one will be released or killed.”

Both outcomes Maher says have happened.

“People need to be aware of their surroundings to see if they are being followed or on alert for suspicious behaviour.”

He says that his comments are not meant to start fears of a kidnapping frenzy but to rather be alert and take sensible steps to be safe.

“Some companies like Apple have inexpensive air tags that can track your location and are linked to software which can be used to track your movements. This tiny device can be put in your shoe, on your bike or somewhere that is not obvious.”

Community worried about kidnapped man

Parkview CPF deputy chairperson Wayne Lurie said, “Our thoughts go out to the victim and his family. We as the CPF will assist in any way we can, and our victim support team is on hand to assist the family if needed. We hope for a swift resolution.”

Managing director of Johannesburg Parks and Zoo, Thanduxolo Mendrew, added his voice to the messages of concern. “This is a really unfortunate incident. We are always concerned with the safety of members of the public and any incident that takes place in our spaces is a great concern to all of us.”

Ward 88 councillor Nicolene Jonker says it is devastating for something like this to happen in the ward. “What a frightening incident, I hope the gentleman is found soon and unharmed.”

Related article: A week in Joburg : Hijackings, heists, armed robbery and murder

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