Crime prevention Tips
Even though a home alarm system is a great way to keep your home safe, you can never be too careful when it comes to home security. We offer a number of home security tips that will encourage burglary prevention in the event that your house is targeted by criminals.
Home Security & Burglary Prevention Tips
- Ensure that all valuables and important documents are photocopied, authenticated by a Commissioner of Oath and securely locked away. If you do not have a fire proof home safe, lodge these copies with your bank for safekeeping.
- Ensure that perimeter doors are fitted with adequate locks. The front door should have a safety chain or safety latch and, if the door has no vision panel, a door viewer. If keys to perimeter doors are mislaid, those locks should be replaced.
- Fit suitable “spacers”, locks or bolts to all sliding doors to prevent them from being lifted off their tracks (the most common method used by burglars on sliding doors and windows).
- Ensure all windows are fitted with adequate locks or burglar bars that cover all glass.
- Ensure that all duplicate keys are locked away if not in use. Do not leave in doors or make unnecessary copies.
- Install a safe for weapons and valuables. Duplicate house keys could be kept in this safe. Wall safes are usually not fire proof and therefore not suitable for face-value documents and money.
- Keep the garage and tool shed locked when not in use. Would–be intruders should not have access to any item that can be used as a weapon or burglary tool.
- Install outside lights that can be remotely controlled from inside the house. Consider installing lighting outside which is activated by a motion detector.
- Try not to have high walls and tall hedges that obscure your view of the property. If walls and ledges are low, or have openings, neighbours and passers-by will more easily be able to spot suspicious or unusual activity.
- Reduce all heavy foliage near the garage entrance and front door to reduce the possibility of those spots being used as s hiding place.
When at home:
- Always lock perimeter doors and close windows that are far away from where the family activity is centred.
- At night always lock perimeter doors and securely fasten windows. When retiring to bed, lock inter-leading doors of those rooms that are not occupied.
- Do not leave curtains open at night as this allows observation into the house.
- Do not go outside alone to investigate at night. Rather switch off all lights and open curtains to allow you to see what is occurring outside, once eyes have become accustomed to the dark.
- Do not open any perimeter door without satisfactory identification from the visitor. If in any doubt, do not open the door and consider summoning the police or ADT.
- Never admit to a stranger that you are alone.
- If a repair-person is expected, do not allow entry unless identity has been checked through a vision panel or door viewer and with the company concerned.
- Do not allow strangers into your home to make telephone calls. Rather offer to make the telephone calls for them while they wait outside.
- If you note suspicious vehicles, individuals or groups in your neighbourhood, contact the police or ADT.
When away from home:
- Do not leave notes on the door, underneath the carpet or in the post box to indicate that you are away.
- Do not leave hidden keys.
- Leave your house key with a trusted neighbour or the key holder (as registered with ADT) so that access can be gained in an emergency.
- Do not leave only the outside lights on as this is usually an indication to would-be intruders that the house is not occupied.
- Leave lights on and the radio playing as this gives the impression that the house is occupied.
If Confronted By An Intruder
- Try to escape, if possible.
- If you cannot escape, try to lock yourself in a secure room and lock the door.
- Remain calm.
- Co-operate with the intruder.
- Be observant and take particular notice of any voice, dress or behavioural traits.
- Only shout for help or scream to avoid serious assault.
- If the intruder tries to leave, do not hinder or apprehend him.
- Do not follow the intruder outside. Close and lock the doors immediately and call for help by activating the home alarm system.
Other Basic Home Security Preventative Measures
- Ensure that anyone leaving your property can get into their car, start it, lock the doors and be fully prepared to drive off before the gates are opened.
- If possible, ensure that anyone leaving your premises can do so without having to reverse into the road. Reversing forces one to concentrate on the driving and not what lies outside the gate. It also greatly reduces visibility.
- If your visitors have to park in the street, escort them to their car when leaving and check that the road is clear for them. If you have dogs, take them with you, especially after dark.
- Ensure that your gate and driveway are well lit after dark. Replace fused light bulbs immediately.
- Ensure that the number of your house is clearly visible at all times.
- Install electric gates – consider this a necessity rather than a luxury.
- If you have electric gates and an intercom system, ensure that visitors can reach the intercom without having to get out of their cars. Do not leave them waiting outside for longer than is absolutely necessary.
- If you spot anything suspicious in your immediate vicinity, do not leave you property or hesitate to drive away from it.
- Be particularly alert if you live in a cul-de-sac, given their single point of entry and exit.
- When driving, avoid wearing flashy jewellery that can be easily seen from a distance by a casual passer-by.
- Never leave any important documents in your car that may provide your personal details.
- The only solution for vehicle-related crime is to have a tracking system installed in your vehicle.
HOW TO AVOID A HIJACK SITUATION:
Approaching and entering your driveway:
- 2km from your house strategy. Be extra alert. Switch off the car radio and concentrate on your surroundings. If you have noticed any vehicle behind you, use the techniques you have learned during the hijack prevention & survival course to determine whether you are being followed.
- Remember to stop your vehicle just on the inside of the gate and select reverse whilst waiting for the gate to close. This creates confusion and may buy you a few seconds for the gate to close completely behind you.
- Check your driveway and street before you leave or enter your premises.
- Make sure your driveway is well lit and clear from shrubbery where perpetrators can hide.
- Be aware of unknown pedestrians close to your residential address – do not turn into your driveway – pass and go back later.
- Liaise with your neighbours – know them.
- Be aware of vehicles parked close to your address with occupants inside. It might be perpetrators observing the area.
- Be alert if your animals do not greet you at the gate as usual. It might be that the perpetrators over-powered them.
- Phone your home and ask for someone to make sure your driveway is safe and to open and close the gate for you.
- When returning home after dark, ensure that an outside light is on, or have someone meet you at the gate. Check with your armed response company if they are rendering rendezvous services.
- If at any time you have to open the gate yourself, make sure nobody suspicious around and the road is clear. Stop right in front of your gate. Do not switch off the vehicle, leave the key in the ignition, get out and close the door (not creating temptation). Then open the gate. Drive in and close the gate immediately behind you.
- If you have small children in the vehicle, take the key with you (this is the only exception). You need the key as a “negotiating tool”. The perpetrators want your vehicle and you want your children.
- If your children are older, it is advised that they exit the vehicle with you when opening the gate so that you are all separated from the vehicle should an attack occur.
Parking your vehicle:
- Check rear-view mirror to ensure you are not being followed.
- When exiting your vehicle, be cautious and aware of surrounding obstructions and shrubbery that may be concealing a hijacker.
- Never sit in your parked vehicle without being conscious of your surroundings. Sleeping in a stationary vehicle is particularly dangerous.
- When approaching your driveway, be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles / persons. This is very important as the majority of hijackers approach their victims in home driveways.
Whilst entering your vehicle and while driving, the following should be considered:
- Have your key ready, but not visible.
- Inspect the outside and inside of the vehicle before unlocking. Check underneath your vehicle for items placed under the wheels. Also make sure nobody is hiding on the passenger side before you enter your vehicle. (As explained during the hijack prevention & survival course)
- Know your destination and directions to it; and be alert should you get lost.
- Always drive with your windows closed and doors locked.
- Make a mental note of any Police Stations in the vicinity.
- When stopping behind another vehicle, leave half a vehicle length in front of your vehicle to make an emergency escape if necessary.
- When dropping off a passenger, make sure they are safely in their own vehicle before departing.
- Avoid driving late at night / early hours of the morning when the roads are quiet.
- Drive in the center lane away from pedestrians where possible.
- If possible, never drive alone.
- NEVER, EVER pick up hitchhikers or strangers. (VERY IMPORTANT)
- Never follow routine routes when driving; change on a regular basis.
- If approached by a stranger while in your vehicle, drive off if possible or use your hooter to attract attention.
- Lock your doors, close your windows and do not have bags or briefcases visible in the vehicle. Use the boot for this. Cell phone should also not be visible.
- There are times and days that these items are visible in the vehicle. Try and open the window they might "smash & grab" about 3 cm, so the window can absorb the sudden impact. If you’ve left your stopping distance you may be able to escape.
- Be constantly on the lookout for suspicious looking characters or vehicles and do not hesitate to report them to the SAPS.
- Always be on the alert for potential danger, and be on the lookout for possible escape routes and safe refuge along the way.
- When approaching a red traffic light at night, slow down so that you only reach it when it turns green.
- Do not take anything from people standing at traffic lights or places where they gather (job seekers on gathering points). Perpetrators are usually standing among these people.
- Make sure you are not followed. If you suspect you are being followed, drive to the nearest Police Station or any busy public area.
- If any person or vehicle in a high-risk area arouses your suspicions, treat it as hostile and take appropriate action, e.g. when approaching a red traffic light, slow down, check for oncoming traffic and if clear, drive through the intersection. A fine will be preferable to an attack. Treat stop streets in the same way. Thereafter call for assistance if necessary. Always report these incidents to the SAPS. But remember, this is not an excuse to ignore the rules of the road. The onus will be on you to prove in a court of law that you had justifiable reason to act the way you did and this is only in the case of a real, life-threatening emergency.
- Should a suspicious vehicle in fact be a (unmarked) SAPS vehicle, the Police must identify themselves by:
- Use of a blue light, loudspeaker or any other police equipment.
- The flash of a badge through the window whilst driving is not enough.
- The Police must go all out in order to let the public know who they are.
- Consider the following actions:
- Switch on emergency lights and put your hand out the window (if possible), indicating that they should follow you. Your intention must be very clear and understandable.
- By exceeding the speed limit, you are sending out a message of suspicion, e.g. stolen / hijacked vehicle, transporting stolen goods, under the influence.
- Drive to the nearest Police Station or when in doubt, the nearest busy public area.
- Always have your identity document and driver’s license in your possession as well as a pen and notebook to take necessary notes.
- If possible, avoid driving in the dark. Hijackers may stage a minor accident, for e.g. If your vehicle is bumped from behind and you do not feel comfortable with the individual involved in the situation, indicate he / she must follow you and drive to the nearest Police Station or any busy public area for help.
- Never open your vehicle window or door for any stranger. If a suspicious person is near your unoccupied vehicle, do not approach the vehicle. Walk to the nearest public area and ask for assistance.
- If you encounter obstacles in the road, e.g. rocks, tyres, do not get out of your vehicle to remove them. Reverse and drive away in the opposite direction.
- Do not stop to eat or rest on deserted roads.
- Do not leave your vehicle unattended at a filling station.
- Cell phones should be carried on the body. Perpetrators will not allow you to remove your cell phone and valuables from the vehicle during an attack.
THE BEST DEFENCE AGAINST HOUSE ROBBERIES IN SOUTH AFRICA
editor | July 6, 2016
Professor Rudolph Zinn and Brigadier Piet Byleveld shed light on how criminals plan and execute a house robbery, and what can be done to prevent this happening to you.
The best way to prevent a house robbery in South Africa includes keeping small dogs inside your house, electric fences, alarms and security sensors, and employing an armed response service.
This is according to research by professor Rudolph Zinn from UNISA’s School of Criminal Justice and Police Practice.
Zinn conducted in-depth interviews with 30 perpetrators who were convicted and incarcerated for aggravated robbery.
What Zinn found was that most house robbers were males in their early twenties, and that they would typically work in groups of four.
On average, each perpetrator admitted to having committed 103 crimes, and their main motivation was economic gain.
How criminals select their targets
According to Zinn, criminals select their targets because of wealth. Other demographical factors such as race played no part in the decisions of the perpetrators.
The majority of criminals said they chose targets where they had some sort of inside information, which often involved talking to domestic workers, gardeners, or security guards.
Robbers prefer neighbourhoods that have many entrance and exit points, with easy access to main roads and where street security was low or non-existent.
However, low security was not the biggest factor when selecting a target. Instead, criminals first looked for households with valuable items to steal.
Investigator Brigadier Piet Byleveld said keeping a safe can be particularly alluring to criminals, because they see it as containing high-value items.
Executing a robbery
All perpetrators said they would spend some time prior to the attack doing surveillance on the targeted residence.
Byleveld said criminals are aware of the police and Security Company’s response time, and function within these limits.
How to protect yourself against house robberies
The best way to protect your house, said Byleveld, is to install CCTV and to keep small dogs as an early alert system.
Byleveld said that to safeguard your home, living in an area with proper access control is valuable.
He also advised screening all your workers, including domestic workers and gardeners, to see if they have criminal records and why they left their previous jobs.
Zinn’s research concurs with Byleveld’s advice, and includes additional security measures like an electric fence, alarm system, security lights, strong doors, and security gates.
However, Zinn warned that no single security system is sufficient to deter criminals from targeting a house.
Instead, Zinn said multiple layers of security are needed to protect your house against robbers. Have small dogs, electric fence, an armed response service, panic button, security lights and a secure room.