Victims of two brazen First National Bank safety deposit box heists believed for six months that they had lost everything.
Now they have discovered the bank recovered coins‚ jewellery and foreign currency at the crime scenes.
“The revelation has come as a huge shock to the victims and reignited their anger,” Kelly Fraser‚ who heads a committee representing about 200 victims‚ said. Many of the victims interact on a WhatsApp group.
At the FNB Randburg branch 360 safety deposit boxes were stolen on December 18. On New Year’s Eve‚ thieves made off with R1.7-million in cash and valuables from about 30 boxes at FNB Parktown.
Victims found out by chance that FNB had secretly retained some valuables recovered at the crime scenes, after a loss adjuster showed one woman a 79-page book of photos of jewellery‚ coin sets and foreign currency.
She mentioned it on the WhatsApp group‚ igniting disbelief and anger that the bank had not disclosed this.
“Whatever they’d put in those boxes had huge value to them‚ either financial or sentimental or both‚ so FNB is really playing havoc with their emotions‚” Fraser said.
Two days after the Randburg heist‚ police found boxes dumped in a field. It was reported at the time that they had been forced open and emptied.
Neither the bank nor police said anything about the valuables left behind in both vaults by the thieves.
Asked why‚ FNB’s “Points of Presence” chief executive Lee-Anne van Zyl said the bank had invited clients to describe their valuables so items could be matched to their owners.