When it comes to home security in South Africa, we need to be vigilant. Despite being a security-conscious nation, our crime statistics are harrowing.
Home robberies, invasions and attacks happen all too frequently. Research conducted by the Human Science Research Council concluded that 34% of South Africans feel unsafe on most days. And it’s not surprising, considering that most recent crime statistics point to an increase in murder and housebreaking.
The average criminal is an opportunist, looking for the easiest and most profitable residence. If your residence looks like Fort Knox, they’ll move on to the easier target. Sometimes, we inadvertently make it easier for them.
Here are some common mistakes we should avoid:
1 – Leaving things outside
While many robbers carry their own tools and weapons, those that don’t will thank you for the large spade you left outside.
Any tool that can be used to break the barriers of your home should be kept indoors, securely locked away.
Another often overlooked danger is loose bricks, paving or large rocks. Thieves find these good for breaking windows.
Also, things like ladders/bins or chairs stacked against walls can make for an easy escape with the bikes you got the kids for Christmas.
2 – Extended absences and social media
While advertising a long get-away is never a great idea, your ‘garden variety’ opportunistic thief may not be sophisticated enough to watch your online movements, those hoping for a giant haul will look for evidence that you’re away.
Some thieves will watch your daily movements, check your mail or look for clues that you’ll be away for a while. Ask a trusted person to collect your mail and switch on the lights while you are away to make it look like there is activity in the house.
3- You have valuables visible from your windows
Criminals enjoy window shopping just as much as we sometimes do.
Keeping your new iPhone on the windowsill, your flat screen mounted on the wall, even throwing away boxes that expensive gifts came in, make picking a new target extremely easy.
Thieves will grab things in easy reach, or (depending on how juicy the store looks) come back for a full shopping trip whether you are there or not.
Keep valuables hidden from sight, watch your refuse and ALWAYS SHRED documents with information on large purchases and/or personal information.
4 – You don’t have your neighbour’s phone number
Everybody needs good neighbours. Get to know your neighbours beyond a morning ‘hello’. Being able to call for help or warn others of suspicious activity could save lives.
Why not create a home security checklist that you and your family can implement together? There are numerous comprehensive checklists online that you can use. Alternatively, you can make your own.
Being victim to a home invasion, robbery or attack can be a traumatic experience that will change the way you think about home safety forever.
5 – Not updating your home insurance
Whenever you make large purchases you need to update your home insurance.
Have you added all your recently purchased big-ticket items? The South African Insurance Association advises checking that your policies are up to date and all your premiums paid up.
Familiarise yourself with the conditions and check if your policy requires any specific security measures to be taken. Some insurance providers require you to have a basic level of home security in order to successfully claim,
eg; An alarm system, spikes, electric fencing, burglar bars, etc.
6 – Animals
Many of us rely on our furry friends to ward of the big scary robbers, but are we teaching them what is okay and what is not?
Teach your dogs not to take anything from anyone(not even you) unless it is put directly into their food bowl, and take their bowls inside after a meal.
Criminals are well-known for offering a tasty treat to either befriend, occupy or harm your bestie.
Also, make sure that your pets can get out of the house in the event of burglars in your yard.
For more safety tips, have a look at the SAPS ACT Crime Prevention booklet, available online for free. It details further steps you can take to ensure your family and possessions are safe from harm.
Some inserts taken from Property24, courtesy of AnchorsecSA