The Quarter 3 crime statistics released by Police Minister General Bheki Cele earlier this year show that all property-related crimes increased by 7.2%. These include burglaries at residential and non-residential properties, theft of motor vehicles and theft out of motor vehicles.
Charnel Hattingh, Group Head of Marketing and Communications at Fidelity ADT, reminds residents that while it is the police’s job to prevent, combat and investigate crime, ordinary citizens must be the allies of law enforcement in eradicating criminality.
“Simple vigilance regarding your home security is one way to do your part and avoid becoming a statistic of any of the above crimes,” she says.
“It is important to note that many more serious crimes take place in a home environment, unfortunately even sexual assault, and murder, if an intruder is able to gain access. Your best defence is to keep criminals out with proper security systems.”
A good exercise to determine whether your home is indeed secure enough is to try to break into it yourself.
Most of us have had to do this at some point when we’ve locked ourselves out of the house, and it can be an eye-opener to realise it is relatively easy to get into a house you believed was perfectly secure.
10 important things to note when evaluating how secure your property and home are:
- Perimeter. Low walls or no walls are asking for trouble. A properly secured perimeter of walling or palisade enhanced with electric fencing and a good gate is your first line of defence.
- Locks. All locks – on gates, doors, garages, sheds – should be of strong, good quality.
- Burglar bars and security gates. These need to be strong and of good quality too. Anything less is simply fooling yourself as criminals know all the tricks when it comes to security gates and burglar bars that are flimsy.
- Doors. Don’t make it easy for a burglar to walk in through the front door. Inspect all exterior doors to make sure the door frames are strong; the hinges are protected and if you have a mail slot make sure nobody can reach in through this and unlock the door. If you move into a new house, change the locks. Reinforce your doors with things like deadbolts, smart locks or a video doorbell.
- Windows. These are a common access point for criminals. Make sure the latches are of good quality and install sensors and burglar bars.
- Lights. Criminals thrive under the cover of darkness so make sure you put them in the spotlight if they come onto your property. Ample outdoor lighting is important. Think motion-sensor lights, solar lights, and smart lighting. If you have lights at your entrance gate, ensure these are always working too.
- Hiding places. Trees and shrubs are good curb appeal, but they also provide criminals with a good place to hide. Trim trees and bushes close to the house to give you more visibility of the property.
- Put things away. Don’t tempt an opportunistic criminal by leaving garden furniture, ladders, bicycles, and the like outside. These should always be securely stored away, and outside gates and sheds should be locked.
- Add cameras. Not only are security cameras a deterrent, but they also enable you to quickly determine what is happening on your property in real time if you are not there. You can also easily send footage to your security provider while they are responding to an incident at your home. Cameras should have motion detection, night vision, WiFi capability and be weatherproof.
- Get automated. Home automation turns a regular house into a smart house. You can remotely or on a schedule control lights, smoke alarms, security cameras and other safety devices, as well as get real-time alerts.
“Homeowners must take responsibility for the safety of their family and possessions by regularly evaluating how secure their property is. Don’t neglect things that are not working as they should because this is just the gap a criminal need,” Hattingh says.
“If you’re able to easily break into your own home it may be time to get an expert evaluation of your security systems and do the necessary beefing up to make your home as unattractive as possible for criminals.”