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South Africa’s 2019 crime statistics showed that more than 21.2 million crimes were reported since 2010 and 2 million of these were between April 2018 and March 2019. 

“Positively, there was a decrease in property-related crimes. However, we urge South Africans to remain vigilant and to put simple methods in place to proactively protect themselves and their homes,” says Marius Neethling, the underwriting manager at Santam.

Robberies at residential properties increased in Gauteng by 3.7 percent and in North West by 12.8 percent. Nationally, there were 113089 reported cases of malicious injury to property.

Here is how you can protect your home against theft:

* Burglar bars and safety gates protect the entrance points of your home and act as a deterrent due to the effort of breaking through them.

* A home security system is important for your peace of mind. Consider one that allows for home automation, particularly if you travel often. This enables you to control your security system easily using your mobile device.

It is common to forget to lock your doors or windows when you’re excited about going on holiday. This makes it easy for criminals to commit burglaries. This is what you can do to protect your home when you go away:

* To make people think you’re home, you may want to consider asking a friend or neighbour to pop by periodically, check the doors, get the mail, open the curtains and switch the lights on for a while. They could even wheel out the wheelie bin on collection day.

* Have your geyser inspected by a registered plumber. A burst or leaking geyser can cause major damage and has the potential to wreck a room, particularly if the water is left untouched, so keep it in tip-top condition. Alternatively, when travelling, you can consider switching off your geyser, as hot water won’t be needed for this period. This would nullify the possibility of a geyser burst while you’re away.

More than 4 000 cases of arson were reported between April 2018 and March 2019, so protection is vital.

* Make sure you have fire extinguishers in good working order, located close to any places where fires might be expected to break out: the kitchen, near fireplaces and braai areas. Remember that using water on fires caused by flammable liquids could make the fire worse.

* The use of gas for both cooking and heating has become more common. It is vital that gas installations and connections are regularly serviced and cleaned.

Underinsurance remains a problem; recent statistics show that more than 60 percent of South Africans underinsure their assets.

* Make sure your home contents are adequately insured to reflect their current replacement values. You will need to provide reasonable proof of ownership to substantiate your claim, in the form of a proof of purchase, valuation certificates or photographs, as specified by your insurer.

* If your insurance policy has a requirement that stipulates that you need burglar bars, this will be compulsory. The material circumstances to loss or damage in every situation are individually assessed, so make sure that you adhere to the requirements stipulated in your policy. 

PERSONAL FINANCE