Property buyers around the world tend to look at what a certain area offers in terms of entertainment and schools. They will also consider the type of neighbourhood, what the neighbours are like and what sort of shopping facilities are on offer. South Africans may well take all of the above into consideration, but the most important factor that anyone buying property in this country considers is the level of crime that occurs in any given area.
While crime is a national problem and occurs in suburbs across the country, some areas do not appear to be as badly affected as others. Smaller communities in outlying areas, for example, don’t seem to be as attractive for criminal elements. However, not everyone is in a position to move to ‘quieter’ areas in a bid to carve out a more peaceful existence. The good news is that homeowners can check to see what different communities are doing in an effort to minimise criminal activity in their suburbs.
“Crime is now so much a fact of life in South Africa that some people are coming to accept it - but it is still responsible for many people moving, for instance to George and Knysna, or emigrating,” says Bill Rawson, chairman Rawson Properties.
The criminals, says Rawson, have become a great deal more sophisticated and more difficult to check.
Nevertheless, Rawson says, that it has to be recognised that some areas are coping a great deal better with crime than others. “Those where most of the homes have good anti-intruder systems, efficient police forces and very active neighbourhood watches are doing better than those where these matters are neglected.”
Interestingly, it has become apparent that those areas that have a strong neighbourhood watch system that actively works with local policing services boosts awareness on all fronts. There have been reports that by working together the police not only respond faster when required to do so, but are more than prepared to work with the parties concerned in an effort to eliminate crime in an area.
Crime checks for any area, says Rawson, can be made via these neighbourhood watches or via security companies. The SAPS website, which is regularly updated, also gives good information on the subject.
While it is important to keep the area in which you live as safe as possible, it is absolutely vital that homeowners take every precaution to ensure that they are adequately protected in their own homes.
“Many homes today,” says Rawson, “are definitely inadequately protected, which makes it easier for experienced criminals to ‘hit’ them. These days, criminals almost always have their own transport and can move in and out very quickly.
“I am often asked what measures should be taken to try and prevent these increasingly-sophisticated criminals from being successful. Two measures which I now recommend are CCTV for checking the area all around the property, especially the spaces in front of the gates and perimeter beams around the edge of the property, which should now be seen as standard. These were previously luxuries: today they are more or less essential unless you live in a security estate. We simply have to get rid of the mind-set which tries to save money on security equipment because a very well protected home will always deter intruders,” he says.
While living in a gated estate has its attractions, so does living in a stand-alone home. Taking the necessary precautions against crime and actively participating in your local neighbour watch and facilitating the police doing their job goes a long way to apprehending criminals and eradicating crime in your area.