Criminals are always on the lookout for opportunities when people go away over the end of year holiday period.
Durban - Home owners should ensure there is “activity” in their houses while they are away this festive season to ensure their homes don’t become soft targets for opportunistic criminals.

That is the advice from Gareth Newham of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

“Burglaries increase significantly during the festive season because most people are away on holiday or are away for long periods during the day."

This provided opportunities for criminals to take

“When you are away, make sure that there continues to be some activity at your house; get someone to come in and collect the post and to turn on the lights at night,” Newham said.

He said residents should also be wary of people and things that appear out of place in their neighbourhood or business.

“If there is a car driving up and down or people walking slowly, that could be opportunistic criminals looking for a target,” he said.

He said businesses should consider beefing up security and be on the lookout for individuals who seem more interested in looking around than they are in purchasing goods or services.

Ivan Govender, district manager (KwaZulu-Natal) for Fidelity ADT Security, said getting things in order before the festive season was the best way to avoid the last-minute rush and resulting mishaps.

“Every year there is an increase in house and vehicle break-ins just before the festive season and we are already seeing this trend. We also see incidents throughout the season.”

Home owners should test their alarms at least three weeks before going on holiday.

He said two weeks before going on holiday people should notify their security company and update them on the details of anyone who has access to the home while they are away.

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) said people should take extra care when doing their banking, either physically or online.

“Always assume that any wi-fi network you are using, especially those in public areas, may be compromised,” said Sabric chief executive Kalyani Pillay, of online banking.

“Don’t use internet cafes or unsecured terminals (hotels, conference centres etc) to do your banking. Change your password regularly and never share these with anyone else,” said Pillay.

Pillay said businesses must vary the days and times on which they deposited cash. “Never make your bank visits public.”

Stokvel groupings were advised to refrain from making cash deposits on high-risk days (eg Monday after month end).

“Take another person with when going to deposit club cash contributions,” said Pillay.