FNB safety deposit boxes targeted in New Year's Eve burglary | Fin24
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FNB safety deposit boxes targeted in New Year's Eve burglary

Jan 03 2017 16:34
Adiel Ismail

Cape Town - It has been a dark couple of days for First National Bank (FNB) clients, with the bank suffering a robbery on New Year's Eve as hundreds of customers were still reeling from a separate break-in.

A distressed victim, who spoke to Fin24 on condition of anonymity, was informed that his safety deposit box was compromised.  "I was told that it was opened on the premises and cash was stolen."

He said his safety deposit box contained documents, money, rings and Kruger Rands.

The bank confirmed to Fin24 on Tuesday that a burglary incident occurred at its Parktown branch on the evening of December 31 2016.

Lee-Anne van Zyl, CEO of FNB Points of Presence, said in a statement FNB customers will be notified once the relevant law enforcement authorities have completed their preliminary investigation.

Read more on the #FNB heist:

Robbers make off with gift given during World War II

My father's most prized possessions stolen

My loss with FNB is irreplaceable

My kids' future was in that safety deposit box

"FNB assures its customers that it is giving the matter utmost priority and will leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this criminal act," she stated.

"We are deploying additional resources to work hand-in-hand with law enforcement authorities on the investigation."  

More than 300 safety deposit boxes were stolen during a heist at the FNB branch in Randburg on December 18 when robbers apparently overpowered a security guard. Just days later, a tip-off led the police to finding about 250 deposit boxes on a veld near the FNB Stadium in the south of Johannesburg.

Van Zyl noted that there is no indication at this stage that the Parktown branch burglary is related to the Randburg one.

"[W]e are working closely with the South African Police Services (SAPS) and the Organised Crime Unit to thoroughly investigate the incidents."

However, Hawks spokesperson Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu told Fin24 that is not overlooking that it could be linked.

"We are not overlooking that the it could be a syndicate and that it is the same suspects who broke into the FNB branch in Randburg."

It is alleged that four unknown suspects grinded through a wall to gain entry into FNB's vault.

"The investigating team discovered that two bank vaults were opened and R1.7m and valuables which were inside 30 safety deposit boxes were stolen."

Mulamu said the Hawks is working together with internal and external forensics to investigate the incident.

Meanwhile, a number of victims have opened up to Fin24 about the impact of the mid December heist.

A customer who has been a client of FNB for 40 years lost all her life savings. She explained that her family had placed every item of material value - including a gift given to her mother during World War II - in the safety deposit box for safekeeping while they were away on holiday.

"It is such a huge personal loss that can never be restored, a huge emotional loss that can never be healed and a huge material loss that can never be replaced."

Another user recalled the painful killing of her father during a house robbery that led her mother to renting a safety deposit box from FNB to protect the valuable items that the thieves didn't get to.

"My father was murdered in an armed robbery at my parent's home in January 2015. The thieves made off with minor things. They didn't manage to find my father's most prized possessions. Following his death my mom moved into a new home. She was petrified that history would repeat itself so she put all of her valuable possessions into a safety deposit box."

One victim said her loss with FNB is irreplaceable.

"A 40-year-old coin collection. Personal jewellery given by loved ones (now passed) that I didn't even wear for fear of being robbed. Kruger coins given to my son every year by his godfather, and a little nest egg or two for emergencies. How do you claim for such things?"

She said criminals are winning the battle over the hardworking middle class.

"I can't explain the sadness that one feels when stripped of small sentimental items."

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