Home security boom as homeowners beef up safety measures on their properties
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Johannesburg - The widespread migration from offices to working from home has been punted as one of the major reasons for South African homeowners beefing up their house’s home security.
A recent study conducted by Budget Insurance revealed that a whopping 75% of their customers had locking bolts installed, while 72.2% of customers inside estates and 83.5% outside estates had security gates installed.
“Homes that aren’t thoroughly secured, have only one security measure in place or have some security features temporarily disabled are prime targets,” spokesperson Susan Steward explained.
She said while home security is an additional household expense during a time when many South Africans are reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is a worthy investment.
“Money invested in proactively beefing up security is money well-spent because keeping yourself and your family safe, while also protecting your assets, gives you complete peace of mind.”
Meanwhile, crime-fighting organisation eBlockwatch founder André Snyman believes the additional time people are spending at home as a result of the pandemic has prompted many to upgrade their security.
“People are still working from home and their kids are doing online schooling so this increased time in their houses has meant that homeowners are looking to feel safer.
“Many parents also leave their older children at home during the day to run errands so the improved security measures are to keep the whole family safer.”
While the South African Police Service’s latest crime stats paints a harrowing picture when it comes to home burglaries in the country with robberies at residential premises increased by 7.6% from 4 916 to 5 288 cases in January to March 2021 compared to the previous year, Snyman has noted a different phenomenon.
“With Covid, the lockdown and the curfew, we have seen a decline in residential robberies because criminals need to disguise themselves in the community but if there is little to no movement, they stick out like a needle in a haystack.”
But Institute of Race Relations (IRR) senior policy researcher Marius Roodt believes that the pandemic has done little to stop house robbers.
“Somebody who is willing to break into another person’s home is unlikely to be too concerned about lockdown rules and curfews.”
As Statistics South Africa data show that house break-ins are the most common crime experienced by households in the country, Roodt believes this has resulted in many South Africans looking to move abroad.
“It’s too early to say without any hard data but anecdotally there seems to be an increase in the number of people who are considering emigrating, this is also confirmed by data from firms that help people move abroad.
“That said, a trend that has been clear for some time is the increase in the number of security guards in South Africa, a trend which is unlikely to reverse in the near future.”
The IRR researcher believes the country’s complicated past, the widespread prevalence of poverty as well as the police’s inability to protect people’s properties are some of the reasons for the alarming house robberies rates in South Africa.
When it comes to the impact of July’s violent social unrest on the desire to improve a property’s home security, Roodt said more data needs to be provided.
But Snyman believes it has left many homeowners in fear and this has led to an increase in a household’s security.
“The bigger security companies have seen a boost in business because they have the capacity to handle this kind of crime and this has made people ask questions about their security.”
He explained that the best form of attack, when it comes to security, was defence and that many neighbourhoods and communities in the country have many layers of safety.
“Security is all about barriers and creating boundaries so we have security patrols in communities, then there are booms and security checks in many areas before even arriving at a house.
“Then there is fibre security which are communication systems such as residential WhatsApp groups, and then at individual homes there are further boundaries like walls, electric fences, sensor beams and alarm systems.”
Steward agreed that physical security measures are the first line of defence but warned criminals are often creative and are also looking for new ways to get inside a property.
“Criminals are opportunistic by nature and our data shows they will use anything from windows, garages, gates, doors, sliding doors and, in rare cases, roofs to gain access to properties,” Steward said.
“South Africans are advised to do a thorough security audit and better safeguard themselves as thoroughly as their means allow.”
She suggested the following security systems that provide additional lines of security that every South African home should consider:
– A sturdy perimeter wall or palisade fence which offers privacy and acts as your first line of defence.
– Secure and sturdy access gates and garage doors that could ideally be operated remotely.
– An electric fence that is installed by a certified professional, in accordance with electric fence compliance regulations.
– Security beams around and inside a home that are set up in such a way that different zones can be activated as needed.
– An alarm system that is linked to a reputable armed response company, including a panic button.
– Burglar bars on windows and security gates on all doors that are made of rigid materials.
– Small dogs in the home as their sharp sense of hearing, sight and smell provide an invaluable early warning system.
– CCTV systems that offer an easy way for homeowners to keep an eye on their property.