Ensuring safety and security in your home

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

The importance of taking precautionary measures to protect your property and ensure your home isn’t affected by crime.

South Africa is considered a beautiful country with so much to offer from great weather, oceans, mountains, forests and a melting pot of interesting people and cultures. “We as South Africans are privileged to be able to call this unique and diverse country our home,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “Unfortunately there is one negative aspect that plagues so many living in this country and that is the crime.”

A home is considered a safe haven for most, but many citizens of South Africa have had an encounter with a home burglary or know of someone who has come face to face with crime. “With the high levels of crime experienced in this country, South African home buyers are some of the most security conscious in the world,” says Goslett. “In fact, security has become a major determining factor in where people choose to purchase their homes. As a result, properties with top-end security features or those located in security estates are highly sought-after and often fetch a higher price than other types of properties.”

According to Goslett, gated estates are known for providing a safer and secure environment, which often receives a greater return of investment in the long run. These homes however, aren’t always affordable for everyone, but that doesn’t mean you should compromise on your safety and allow your home to become a target of crime.

Goslett lists a number of ways in which homeowners can beef up their home’s security to keep criminals at bay.

Make it difficult to break in

Homes that are considered soft targets for crime are generally properties that are perceived as being quick and easy to gain access to. It is less likely that your home will get broken into if it requires more time and effort to access. “It is best not to leave anything lying around that could assist someone to break into the home, such as ladders or gardening tools. Ideally it is also a good idea to keep foliage and shrubs cut back to reduce the number of areas where intruders can hide. If there are no lights near the entrance areas of the property, putting up lights will make these areas more visible and aid in deterring intruders,” advises Goslett.

It is important for all entry points to your home to be locked – this is especially applicable to garage entrances as it is a common area of the house which intruders can have access to items that could potentially help them to gain entry into your home. “While not all homeowners will have the facilities, a trained guard-dog is an excellent deterrent and household companion. It is vital that homeowners tell their children and domestic workers to identify people before allowing them to gain access to the home,” says Goslett.

Visible and physical protection is best

According to security experts, creating a physical barrier around the perimeter of the property, such as visible palisading or a good quality electric fence will stand out to potential intruders and is considered a good precautionary measure.

By using motion sensors and beams, homeowners can provide a back-up to the primary physical barrier. It is important for all entry points and security barriers to be connected to an alarm system so that the necessary people can be alerted if intruders are detected.

Don’t let people know you are away

For the most part, intruders prefer to avoid confrontation and as a result are more likely to break into a property when no one is home. “Homeowners who are going away for a holiday should avoid leaving any tell-tale signs that no-one is home, such as uncollected post or newspapers. An unoccupied home will be more vulnerable to possible intrusion,” says Goslett. “Timers on the lighting inside and outside the home will give the appearance that people are there. Provided it is safe to do so, a car can be parked in the property where it is visible, which will also give the impression that someone is home.”

Answering the intercom is also helpful in making your presence at home known. Criminals often check to see if the occupants of a property are there by ringing the intercom, so answering it will safe guard you in alerting criminals of your presence. An unanswered intercom could be seen as an invitation to an unwelcome home invasion. If the intercom does not work, remove or repair it as soon as possible.

Don’t leave the keys in the usual places

In many home thefts, criminals are known for taking vehicles along with the household contents. To prevent this always ensure your vehicle keys or spare keys are hidden in an unusual place, especially if you’re away on holiday. “Although it is convenient, it is best to not have keys on key hooks or counters where they are easily seen, but rather put them out of sight and in a safe place,” advises Goslett.

Community involvement

Joining the local community policing forum or neighbourhood watch is a vital way in connecting with neighbours and coming together to actively keep your community safe and secure. “It is better to prevent criminal activity from affecting your home, then having to deal with the aftermath. While it may be difficult to completely ensure that a home is never broken into, taking the necessary precautions is the right step toward making the home and its occupants safer,” Goslett concludes.

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