Fidelity ADT has picked up a worrying trend this month where armed robbers are coming into doctor’s rooms pretending to be patients. There have been 9 incidents over a period of one month, but this is now happening more regularly. The initial incidents occurred in Selcourt, Dunnottar and Springs CBD; however the trend has shifted further to Brakpan and Benoni.
Milly Barnard, Community Development Manager at Fidelity ADT says it is particularly concerning as in general it is very difficult to distinguish between actual patients and fraudsters pretending to be patients. Patients visiting the practice are also generally not feeling well and definitely not on high alert as this is almost the last place you would expect thieves to walk in.
Unfortunately opportunistic thieves often prey on people in vulnerable spaces. “It is also a public space so the last thing one wants to do is create panic and a possible shoot out,” says Barnard.
Barnard provides the following advice to medical practices:
- All medical rooms including doctors, dentists etc. should be connected to a panic button and a place of safety need to be created with security doors if possible.
- Should suspicious activity occur, rather over react than not react at all. Noise is generally a good deterrent and will often scare off criminals.
- Report any suspicious activity to the SAPS or contact your private security provider immediately.
- If there is a registration point at the practice and there are more than two patients wanting to come in for an appointment, there must be some kind of confirmation of telephone numbers etc,
- Ensure you have trained staff on how to react in the event of an emergency and ensure they have security contact details
- Regular testing and maintenance of a duress alarm is essential
- In the case of an incident, be sure to preserve evidence
- Assess your risks regularly and make sure there is a plan of action
- Be cautious not to overact and create panic
- After hour consultations must be carefully planned, taking into consideration the criminal activity and risks
- Fencing around the practice and car park to prevent a thoroughfare is advised if the layout of the practice permits.
- Establish a system of alert between staff members and the different medical practitioners. Consider for instance a key word to alert each other of potential danger
- Consider installing CCTV