Lifestyle

Easter crime wave to hit South Africa, security experts warn

The Easter weekend is one of the busiest ‘crime holidays’ of the year, with break-ins historically increasing over the period, says Auto & General Insurance.

“One’s biggest enemy is the notion that ‘it cannot happen to me’. The fact is that it can if you let your guard down,” said Ricardo Coetzee, head of Auto & General Insurance.

“Our data has shown that, in 2019, break-in claims during Easter increased by 96% compared to any other normal weekend. In 2020, during hard lockdown, Easter claims were down by 7%, but 2021 again saw a massive increase of 89%. This confirms that the Easter period is prime time for criminals to cash in.”

Coetzee said that many of these crimes are meticulously planned, but criminals will strike at any opportunity, so it’s imperative for South Africans to be aware of trends, take proactive steps to protect themselves as best they can and be prepared to react in a split second.

A separate report by Fidelity ADT recently revealed four new invasion trends:

  • Criminals often use staff – by manipulation or force – to gain access to premises;
  • Gate motors are a prime target;
  • Most home invasions take place during the day; and
  • Business robberies are on the rise, mostly in Gauteng and between 18h00 and 21h00.

The two groups said it’s crucial for home and business owners to have a layered approach to security and not rely on just a single security measure.

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What to invest in

Fidelity ADT and Auto & General said South Africans should look at investing in the following measures:

  • A sturdy perimeter wall or palisade fence offers privacy and acts as the first defence.
  • Secure and sturdy access gates and doors. Ideally, these should be operated remotely and opened and closed quickly. Ensure that gates can’t be lifted off their rails with a crowbar and that gate motors are well hidden, properly protected, can’t be accessed easily and have electronic alert systems that notify you should the unit be tampered with.
  • An electric fence offers an extra security barrier and serves as a further deterrent to criminals. Make sure yours is installed by a certified professional, in accordance with electric fence compliance regulations. Be sure to check for vulnerable spots where the fence can be bypassed by, for example, stepping on part of the wall, or using a nearby tree for leverage.
  • Security beams around and inside your home or business should be set up in such a way that different zones can be activated as needed and so that criminals can’t dodge them. This serves as an early warning system, allowing you and your security company more time to react.
  • An alarm system that is linked to a reputable armed response company, including a panic button.
  • Burglar bars on windows and security gates on all doors – made of rigid materials and fixed in such a way that they can’t be easily bypassed, broken or pried open. Some older buildings are especially vulnerable if the weld that fixes burglar bars to the window frame isn’t sturdy. Slam-lock security gates that can be slammed shut in an instant are a good investment.
  • Identify possible hiding places and clear them. Cut away tree branches and remove objects like garden tools that could be used as leverage for getting into the property.
  • CCTV systems are becoming increasingly affordable and offer an easy way for you to keep an eye on your property. You can even monitor your property remotely via a smartphone app. This can provide valuable footage if it’s broken into.

Preventative advice for your family or colleagues

  • Everyone in your household or workplace should be briefed on good security practices, and know which security measures are in place and how to use them.
  • If possible, insist on visitors making appointments. Before opening the door or gate for anyone, or going outside to assist them, they should be thoroughly screened. If you own a business, it’s wise to have someone specifically dedicated to this role.
  • If someone claims to be from the council, a sales agent, a repair technician, a surveyor, a friend of someone you know or work with or even a potential client, trust nobody. First, verify their details.
  • Everyone should have emergency numbers – of the SAPS, Community Protection Forum, security company and emergency services – saved on their phones. It’s also good to have the numbers of trusted neighbours so that you can alert each other when something is amiss.
  • Make sure to call in the help of a security expert to do a risk assessment, especially if you own a business. They can help you to identify and address weak spots.

Read: Shock increase in driving costs to hit South Africa – here’s how much more you could pay

Artmotion S.Africa

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