Business leaders fear robberies could drive up insurance, operating costs
The leaders of two major business lobbies are expressing concern about what appears to be a growing trend of criminals robbing ATMs and cash-in-transit operations. On Sunday, a Beryllium team was attacked by gun-toting robbers in Portmore, St...
The leaders of two major business lobbies are expressing concern about what appears to be a growing trend of criminals robbing ATMs and cash-in-transit operations.
On Sunday, a Beryllium team was attacked by gun-toting robbers in Portmore, St Catherine, leaving four crew members injured, before making off with millions of dollars.
This incident follows a similar function attack on a Beryllium team three weeks ago. One guard died in that encounter as the criminals made off with an estimated $10 million. There has also been an increase in the number of ATMs being robbed.
While expressing his sympathies to the security guards injured in the latest attack, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) President Michael McMorris called for the Government and the business community to collaborate to combat these kinds of robberies.
He told The Gleaner that this should involve the sharing of intelligence and technology, with government facilitation of both the hardening of targets and the improved effectiveness of a threat response.
McMorris also cautioned companies and businesses handling large volumes of cash to “review their procedures to include hardening of their facilities to deter and withstand such attacks and also improve their training and monitoring of staff to ensure they comply with best practices”.
But he also highlighted the impact that these incidents can have on the business community.
“The cost of handling cash will increase as the cost of security and insurance for FIs (financial institutions) and businesses increase ... until they can move away from a heavy cash bias. These attacks, if they persist, will and should force more businesses to move away from cash to digital or online transactions,” he said.
While noting that criminals are looking for the “weakest point in the chain of cash handling”, the JCC president expressed concern that the robbers put individuals in public spaces in increased danger, noting that the armed attacks were “particularly heinous and must be arrested and discouraged immediately”.
Describing the incidents as “troubling”, Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica President Metry Seaga also rued the increase in the cost of doing business that could result as security costs escalate.
“People are starting to feel like that's where they can get big lump sums of money. They need to understand that it's people's money and is not just the owners of the company that they're robbing, but they're robbing people's money and inconveniencing people, and it's very concerning,” he told The Gleaner.
He said these incidents should be given the utmost regard by the security forces.
“It's something that the authorities have to put their attention to as to how they're going to treat it,” he said. “I am just devastated that there is going to be more loss of lives before we take it seriously.”
Seaga said that proper collaboration is needed to ensure that these criminals are identified and caught quickly and receive the appropriate punishment.
“Most people are being paid by transfers now and if they have to go far to get to an ATM, it makes it more difficult for them. It's just not right, it's not fair, it's not convenient. I really hope that we can convince people that this is just not the way to go,” he said.