ATM attacks and bank robberies in South Africa – Here are the hotspots

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) has released its crime statistics for 2019, which show a drop in physical banking crime across multiple categories.

A decline in the prevalence of associated robberies, cash-in-transit heists, and ATM attacks was attributed to robust mitigation strategies put in place by the banks, SABRIC said.

The term “associated robbery” refers to a violent bank-related robbery of cash or a bank card committed against a bank client en route to, or from a bank branch, ATM, or cash centre to make a deposit or withdrawal.

ATM attacks decreased by 9%, cash-in-transit heists fell by 16%, and associated robberies dropped by 2% in the past year.

The Western Cape and Gauteng showed the biggest decline in ATM attacks, and KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State were the only provinces which did not reflect a decreased number of cash-in-transit robberies.

SABRIC found that the counterfeiting of cards decreased by 44.8% for credit cards and 34.8% for debit cards, and overall gross losses on card transactions in South Africa amounted to R428.6 million for 2019, a 2% decrease compared to the previous year.

“Collaboration is critical when it comes to combatting organised financial crime and SABRIC is well positioned to do just that, by leveraging the collective efforts of its members and stakeholders. These results show what’s possible,” said SABRIC CEO Nischal Mewalall.

Big spike in business roberries

In contrast to this decline, however, business burglaries and robberies have seen sharp annual increases of 27% and 86%, respectively.

A business burglary is when a company is broken into to remove cash or any other movable property, while a business robbery is the violent removal of cash or movable property while under the control of a bank.

Digital banking fraud incidents increased by 20%, SABRIC noted.

The statistics also found that gross fraud losses on banking apps increased by only 1% despite a significant drive by banks to increase the number of transactions processed on apps.

“Our banks have sound security measures in place to mitigate digital fraud,” Mewalall said.

“Criminals know this and therefore resort to 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.”

Crime hotspots

SABRIC provided regional crime statistics for a number of crimes, including ATM attacks, associated robbery, burglary, and cash-in-transit heists.

Gauteng remains the national hotspot for cash-in transit heists, as well as associated robbery and ATM attacks.

The Eastern Cape had the highest number of burglaries and bank robberies.

The images below illustrate the provincial distribution of banking crime incidents across a variety of categories.

Associated Robbery

Associated Robbery

ATM Attack

ATM Attack



Bank Robbery

Bank Robbery


Cash in transit

Now read: Why South African banks will not scrap ATM Saswitch fees

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ATM attacks and bank robberies in South Africa – Here are the hotspots