Courier pulls a Post Office — allegedly opens parcel to steal 3 Krugerrands

Sunday was a tough morning for me coming to grips with modern-day theft.

What happened?

My parcel with nine Krugerrands (KR) and 20 plastic capsules arrived from my dealer in Johannesburg. I meticulously opened the parcel and unpacked it, only to discover three Krugerrands were missing. I revisited my invoice. Sure enough, nine KRs were stated, and there were only six. That is more than R90,000 gone!

I immediately advised my dealer. He checked his records, the photo of the packed parcel, signed off by his two overseers and a video of the finished product, all insured. The full order was sent. He checked his inventory, there were no extras in stock. All was clear on his side. Immediately, I was left feeling that I must therefore be the ‘crook’.

There had been two other delivery hiccups in the past and although they had been adequately resolved, the dealer raised the issue again, as if to ask whether it was worth doing business with me.

There is a third option; unless, of course, the package had been tampered with? So, I pieced the parcel carefully together again and sent him the pictures of the contents and a video of the delivery box.

His response was: “They have tampered with the box.” He, in turn, obtained a video of the parcel being prepared to be loaded into the vehicle for delivery. It was still in the same perfect format as when it had left JHB in the overnight delivery.

How did we know?

The waybill was missing. The tape that secured the box, which always has your name and cellphone number on it, was missing. They had used new tape to close up the box. More importantly, the package had been made up again. The parcel had been packed by an amateur. There were four ‘fragile’ stickers plucked on the parcel.

When and where did this happen?

The courier’s good tracking system tracks every movement once the parcel is collected from the dealer. The vehicle left the CT hub at 06h45 for its deliveries. It arrived at my door two hours later. In the interim, the driver and assistant had the time to open the parcel and rewrap the parcel before dropping it off for delivery.

Where to from here?

Fortunately, the dealer does have theft insurance. I imagine he will place a claim against his policy. In the meantime, he launched a full investigation of the matter and reported it to management. He hopes they will carry out a lie detector test on their staff.

What are the lessons for us?

Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world. Crime seems to be the order of the day and we need to be a lot more circumspect.

No wonder courier companies can’t obtain insurance. I was led to believe it was because of the riots in KZN last year that had a devastating effect on the insurance industry. That may well be, but I imagine it is the risks within the company that are the real risks.

Suggested steps for receiving your parcel

  • Personally punch in the secret pin code you receive for confirming your identity. Do not let the courier ask you for the code.
  • Take a picture with your cellphone as soon as your parcel arrives.
  • Unpack the contents straight away, take a snapshot thereof and verify that it matches your order.

I trust you will find this helpful and not have to go through an experience like mine.

Security footage shows the parcel was intact before it left the CT hub for our address.
Security footage shows the parcel was intact before it left the CT hub for our address.

Update — Courier investigating

Alec Hogg, of BizNews, very kindly flighted my summary of the theft of the 3 Krugerrands. Hoping we can help others to be more circumspect with a courier.

The courier company dropped off another parcel today. The contract manager for the area personally paid me a visit and gave me an update. The two employees involved have been suspended while they are being investigated. They will do a lie detector, if they fail the test they will lose their jobs. The one fellow has had an investigation before. These guys get “wise.” He apologised on behalf of the company.

The courier company specifically excludes precious metals as part of their insurance for cargo. This is why their rate is so good.
My dealer advised me that he has only had 4 claims in the eight years that he has been operating.

The dealer sent me a letter advising us of such, as well as feedback on their progress. The insurance claim will cover my loss. The insurance company protects the cargo based on an annual turnover amount. They will now pay the claim.

This article is by Cape Town-based investment adviser David Melvill and first appeared on BizNews. It is republished with permission.

Now read: We tracked two courier parcels from start to finish to see where they went

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Courier pulls a Post Office — allegedly opens parcel to steal 3 Krugerrands