Safety first

For many home buyers in South Africa, security has become one of the main influencing factors when deciding which home to purchase, says Grant Gavin, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Panache, whose office the services the suburbs of Durban North and surrounds.

“South African home buyers are among the most security conscious people in the world due to the fact that so many have been affected by crime in some way. This is why property within secure estates and property with state-of-the-art security systems are generally sought-after and have a greater return on investment. This is evident in the premium paid for homes in secure estates. Homeowners can add value to their homes by upgrading their security, as well as have the peace of mind of knowing that the occupants in their home are safer,” says Gavin.

Barry Brown, Director of Marshall Security, a security company dedicated to eliminating crime in Durban North, says that there are a few ways that homeowners can increase the security of their homes and deter criminals. He gives a few pointers for homeowners to consider:

Physical protection is best

According to Brown, physical protection and barriers such as palisade-style fencing or good quality electric fencing have no match when it comes to deterring would-be burglars. He notes, however, that it is important to remember that an electric fence around the perimeter makes the front gate the weak spot, so it is advisable that the gate is alarmed as well. “Motion beams or outdoor passives are a great backup to good physical security. They provide early detection and an alarm should the physical barriers fail,” he says.

Don’t be an easy target

The longer it takes to break into your home, the less likely it is that this will happen. Avoid anything that can make your home an easier target. Keep bushes, trees and foliage trimmed back so that there are no hiding places for intruders and keep entrance areas well lit. Be careful not to leave garage doors unlocked or open to advertise the contents stored within.  Get a guard-dog that has been trained to bark at any disturbance and talk to the children about the importance of identifying who is trying to gain access to the home.

Don’t ignore the intercom

If the gate buzzer or intercom rings at any hour of the day or night - do not ignore it. Brown says that some criminals use this as a method to check whether the occupants of the property are home. If it is ignored, an armed intruder may take that as an invitation to proceed to enter. If the intercom does not work, remove or repair it as soon as possible.

Never advertise being away

Most criminals want to avoid a confrontational situation so they would rather break into a home while the occupants are not there. Signs such as uncollected post can make the property more vulnerable to burglary. Homeowners who don’t already have timers, should consider installing timers for the lights both inside and outside the home and leave a car where it is safe but visible from the outside.  

Don’t keep keys in usual places

Brown says that a new trend among certain syndicates of housebreakers is to take your vehicle in addition to your household belongings. To combat this, keys and their spares should be kept out of all the usual places. Keeping them on key hooks and on counters and desks is a no-no. He suggests that homeowners who are going away on holiday make sure that keys are hidden safely away.

Be involved

Join your local community policing forum and get fellow residents together to form a neighbourhood watch with shared time schedules.

“Although there is no fool-proof way of ensuring that your home and occupants will be protected at all times, being prepared and taking the necessary precautions is a step in the right direction,” Gavin concludes.

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