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  • Writer's pictureDavid Miller

Why are we losing the battle for our property?

South Africa is a country of vast differences between the haves and the have-nots. With rampant poverty, fuelled to some extent by the recent Covid-19 pandemic, even people who are not criminal by nature are looking for ways to take our property - by theft, by force - or by any means practical. This includes items ranging from garden furniture to household contents, electronic items, handbags, wallets and vehicles.

More recently - even Inverters and their Lithium batteries are being targeted!

As individuals, there IS SOMETHING we can do; make our target less attractive. If you were a criminal walking in the street looking for a way to enhance your income - or feed your family - you would probably choose the most tempting target - which, for a casual burglar, is often the easiest one on the street.

CCTV, burglar alarms and such electronics do NOT stop burglars or robbers; what they do very well is to warn you when a breach has already taken place. This is usually too late - particularly if the robber breaks your bedroom window at night while you are in bed. CCTV may possibly give you an image of a face or something recognizable like a number plate - which may be good evidence if the perpetrator is ever caught and prosecuted- but these devices don't physically prevent entry or robbery. Electric fences, on the other hand, are a good deterrent.

The public in South Africa, and businesses alike - are keen to monitor everything on phones and other mobile devices. Do YOU really want to watch your home, car or business being burgled while you are away? Good doors and door frames, sturdy steel gates, bars, lights and dogs are good physical deterrents, and will deter or at least slow a robber down. They are the building-blocks of good physical security and cannot be replaced by electronics alone.

Try this simple test outside your own home or business: Look at your street through the eyes of a burglar or a robber. Which property looks most tempting? Ask yourself why it is tempting - is it the low wall, the flimsy gate or fence, the door that has a gap big enough for a crow bar or a tire-lever, the unprotected glass or the lack of lighting around the perimeter? If valuables are left on car-seats or clearly visible in windows, particularly where the inside lighting is stronger than the outside lighting at night - the window becomes a showcase for the burglar-shopper. Close your blinds and curtains as soon as you put the lights on at night, so that you don't illuminate and showcase a potential target.

Harden your target and lower your risk. Even if you are well insured - the money will never compensate for the trauma of having to confront a kidnapper, a burglar or an armed robber, and the possible violent outcome of such a confrontation.

Wherever possible - keep intruders outside the boundaries of your property so that they don't get close enough to your building to break windows and doors - most of which can be broken with bricks, hand-tools or even portable power-tools. Think of your property as an onion, each layer of skin protecting the one inside it. Harden the outer layer as much as it practicable, starting with the perimeter fence or wall.

Take special care and be particularly vigilant when entering or leaving your premises - this is a favorite time for robbers to take your car, your keys, wallet, hand-bag / brief-case etc all at once - and possibly take a hostage to ensure get-away!



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