Yonga Bhungane rests during load shedding. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko

Johannesburg -

Load shedding was back on Friday because of increased electricity demand and technical faults at some power stations, Eskom said.

“Many of our sub-stations are old and maintenance work has to be done on them frequently. None of the newer ones are less than 20 years old,” said Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe.

The persistent power shortages will not affect residential crime rates, according to private security companies.

Burglaries do not increase during load shedding. Instead, thieves steal electric cables when the power is off, said SOS Protect Sure’s sales and marketing manager, Martin Barber.

Even if more than three times the average number of panic alarms are triggered on load shedding days, this is because the power has gone off and not because of criminal activity.

Little of the criminal activity reported during load shedding occurred at residences.

“We can’t point out a significant increase in house break-ins or burglaries, but we have noticed that criminals steal cables during load shedding.”

Because some homes had old alarm systems, it was common for false alarm signals to be triggered when the power went off or came on.

Also, during power outages, alarm systems whose batteries were running low could lack the reserve power needed to send and receive a signal.

“Not every customer has the latest alarm system,” Barber said.

“Some old ones with worn batteries trigger a burglary or break-in signal when it is just the power going off.

“Load shedding puts security companies under a lot of pressure.”

Theunis Kotze, ADT inland region general manager, and Nomvelo Buthelezi, spokesperson for Chubb Fire and Security, echoed this.

Kotze said the traffic congestion that occurred when traffic lights weren’t functioning because of load shedding also affected the work of security companies.

“In terms of workforce management, we run split shifts and flexitime to ensure that we always have adequate manpower to mitigate the impact of load shedding on our monitoring centre.”

Kotze said crime was largely seasonal.

Crime did not spike during load shedding.

“Statistics for Joburg do not indicate an increase in crime during load shedding. However, load shedding will always add risk to your home or business security system, depending on battery back-up capabilities.”

Buthelezi said Chubb had also not found that the incidence of burglaries and house robberies increased during load shedding.

“While crime rates remain serious in South Africa and load shedding does create concerns in terms of maintaining positive security for homes and businesses, Chubb does not believe it is contributing significantly to crime.”

To deal with the problem of low batteries during load shedding, Chubb had launched a solar panel that connected to the alarm system and battery, ensuring the system continued to function during load shedding, Buthelezi said. This also reduced the incidence of false alarms.

“We monitor incidents in all our areas of operation in the country, and have not seen the number of crime incidents experienced increase significantly during those months were we experienced multiple days of load shedding.”

These tips are from private security companies

- It is important that your alarm system has an adequate battery supply.

- Batteries should be checked regularly.

- Ensure alarms have sufficient back-up power so they can send signals as normal even during prolonged power outages.

- Power cuts can affect fire systems and fire control systems, so these also need to be checked regularly.

- The more frequent use of gas and candles can increase the risk of fire, so home fire extinguishers should be on hand.

- Keep your panic button nearby.

- Extra care should be taken to ensure safety in the driveway, watch for any suspicious individuals or cars lurking nearby and immediately report the presence of these to your security service provider or the police.

Saturday Star