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Don’t become a victim: Vital home security and safety tips

07 Nov 2019

According to the most recent Governance, Public Safety and Justice Survey (GPSJS) 2018/19 - Victims of Crime, released by Stats SA, an estimated 1 345 196 incidences of housebreaking and about 264 054 home robberies occurred in South Africa in 2018/19.

Over 1.3 million housebreaking incidents were reported in SA for the 2018/2019 period. Here are lines of defence that every household should have, and safety tips…

Dialdirect Insurance urges South Africans to be vigilant and adopt a proactive approach to home security.

“Homes that aren’t thoroughly secured, have only one security measure in place or have one of their security features temporarily disabled, are prime targets. South Africans are advised to do a thorough security audit and better safeguard themselves as thoroughly as their means allow,” says Maanda Tshifularo, Head of Dialdirect Insurance.

The following trends are evident in Dialdirect’s claims data:

- Home burglaries occur most frequently between Thursdays and Saturdays, with a spike in the frequency of incidents during the months of April, July, August and December.

- Although entry through front doors and windows are common, there’s been an increase in the number of claims where entry is gained through the garage.

- The most commonly stolen items during a burglary are electronics, with televisions, decoders, cameras and jewellery featuring high on criminals’ ‘shopping lists’.

- With home burglaries, where occupants are home, vehicles are often also stolen in addition to possessions.

According to Tshifularo, there are various systems that provide additional lines of security that every South African home should consider:

- A sturdy perimeter wall or palisade fence that not only offers privacy, but also acts as a first line of defense.

- Secure access gates and garage doors that are sturdy and can ideally be opened remotely. It’s important that these access gates can be opened and closed quickly to limit the window of opportunity for criminals. Also ensure that gates can’t be lifted off their rails and that gate motors are well hidden and can’t be accessed easily.

- An electric fence that offers an extra security barrier and serves as a further deterrent to criminals. It’s important to have this done by a certified professional and according to electric fence compliance regulations. Be sure to check for vulnerable spots where the fence can be bypassed.

- Security beams that cover the area around your home, as well as the area inside your home - set up in such a way that different zones can be activated as needed. This serves as an early warning system, should criminals manage to cross the first lines of security.

- Burglar bars on windows and security gates on all doors.

- It’s wise to link your security system to a reputable armed response company and to have a panic button linked to this system as well.

- CCTV systems are becoming increasingly affordable and offer an easy way for you to keep an eye on your property - often even remotely via a smartphone app. Should you become a victim of crime, they also provide a valuable tool for police to track down criminals.

Tshifularo also highlights the following tips to protect your home:

- Look out for suspicious vehicles or individuals, especially when entering your property, and notify authorities when necessary. Move swiftly when you enter or exit your property.

- Mix up your daily routine to make it less predictable for criminals to know when you’ll be home.

- Avoid giving criminals a peek at what is inside your home by leaving empty boxes of newly bought items in full view, by leaving curtains wide open or by leaving any doors, including the garage door, open.

- Don’t leave car and house keys in a spot where they’re easily accessible - keep them stored away in a secure spot only known by members of your household.

- Notify your security company when you won’t be at home for extended periods of time.

- Keep the contact details of all emergency services stored on your phone or written down where everyone in the household can access them. Make sure that everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency.

“In the event that you do become a victim, it’s wise to have your belongings comprehensively insured,” says Tshifularo. “Be sure to update your home contents inventory regularly and ensure that items are insured at their current replacement value.”

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