Steps to keep your prop­erty safe

Business Day - Home Front - - HOME FRONT -

HOME rob­beries have in­creased by 3.6% dur­ing the past year, ac­cord­ing to the 20122013 South African Po­lice crime sta­tis­tics. As a re­sult, it is im­por­tant for home­own­ers to en­sure they im­ple­ment pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures to pro­tect them­selves against this grow­ing crime.

There are a num­ber of steps home­own­ers can take to not only bet­ter en­sure the se­cu­rity of their pos­ses­sions but their loved ones as well.

Im­ple­ment de­tec­tion meth­ods: In­stalling ex­te­rior mo­tion sen­sor lights and de­tec­tion beams not only al­low home­own­ers to re­main alert to any ac­tiv­ity and move­ment on the prop­erty, they also de­ter crim­i­nals from in­vad­ing the prop­erty. It is ad­vis­able to in­stall ex­te­rior light­ing that can be con­trolled re­motely from in­side the home.

In­stall CCTV: Close-cir­cuit tele­vi­sion (CCTV) is a huge de­ter­rent for bur­glars. By hav­ing CCTV cam­eras run­ning 24x7 bur­glars are less likely to at­tack for fear of be­ing filmed, recog­nised and caught. It is also a good idea to have a cam­era in­stalled by the front gate so that any visi­tors can be viewed from the safety of the home.

En­sure alarm sys­tem is in work­ing or­der: Alarms and armed re­sponse ser­vices are not only an im­por­tant re­quire­ment of most home insurance poli­cies but also as­sist to pro­tect home­own­ers and oc­cu­pants. How­ever, it is im­per­a­tive that home­own­ers seek the ad­vice of a trusted se­cu­rity provider to in­stall an alarm sys­tem that suits the prop­erty’s needs (i.e. en­sur­ing all ar­eas are cov­ered), while also meet­ing the ap­pro­pri­ate se­cu­rity in­dus­try stan­dards.

Fol­low­ing the in­stal­la­tion, se­cu­rity alarms must be checked and tested on a reg­u­lar ba­sis to make sure they are work­ing at all times. Test­ing the alarm is cru­cial as most insurance poli­cies stip­u­late that the cover is invalid if the alarm is not work­ing or set when no one is home, which places home­own­ers at risk of claim re­jec­tions.

Change rou­tines: Rob­bers of­ten sur­vey a home be­fore con­duct­ing the rob­bery. There­fore, it is a good idea to change exit and re­turn rou­tines as well as routes as much as pos­si­ble. The use of au­to­matic gate en­trances will also en­sure that home­own­ers do not have to leave the safety of their ve­hi­cle to ac­cess the premises.

Take cau­tion when hir­ing em­ploy­ees: Home rob­beries can also re­sult from in­side in­for­ma­tion from do­mes­tic work­ers or for­mer em­ploy­ees. As a re­sult, it is im­por­tant to take ex­treme pre­cau­tion when hir­ing em­ploy­ees to work in the home or on the prop­erty. It is also im­per­a­tive that pol­i­cy­hold­ers check their pol­icy cover to en­sure theft by em­ploy­ees is in­deed cov­ered as this is of­ten ex­cluded on stan­dard home con­tents poli­cies. Home­own­ers should never give copies of the house keys to gen­eral ser­vice providers or strangers. When home­own­ers move into a new home it is im­per­a­tive that they change the locks on all doors im­me­di­ately as they can never be sure who pre­vi­ously had a copy of the keys to the home.

Keep walls and gar­den clear: Bushes and long grass pro­vide crim­i­nals with a good hiding place. As a re­sult, home­own­ers should al­ways trim down grass and large bushes and re­move big trees from the prop­erty’s bound­aries and drive­way. How­ever, bushes with prickly thorns planted near win­dows help de­ter bur­glars from climb­ing into win­dows. In ad­di­tion, gar­den­ing tools, such as lad­ders or crow­bars, can as­sist rob­bers to break in so th­ese items should al­ways be packed away.

Se­cure doors and win­dows: Home­own­ers must keep doors and win­dows locked when not in use. As an added se­cu­rity mea­sure, home­own­ers should in­stall bur­glar bars and se­cu­rity gates for sit­u­a­tions when win­dows and doors are left open while at home.

Make friends with neigh­bours: By be­friend­ing neigh­bours, home­own­ers will have an ex­tra set of eyes look­ing out for the prop­erty. Build­ing good re­la­tion­ships can also be ben­e­fi­cial in the event of an emer­gency as they will be more will­ing to pro­vide as­sis­tance.

In light of the in­crease in home rob­beries, it is in­creas­ingly im­por­tant for home­own­ers to pro­tect them­selves and their be­long­ings. By im­ple­ment­ing the above pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures along­side a sound home­own­ers’ insurance pol­icy, home­own­ers can bet­ter avoid fi­nan­cial and emo­tional strain as­so­ci­ated with home rob­beries.

Chris­telle Fourie

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